If you don’t love it…breathe

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There has been much ink split about this t-shirt which was pulled from a Cairns Woolworths, both 2GB shock jock Ray Hadley and Clive Palmer party Jacqui Lambie came out in support of it staying on shelves.

Many times have I been in a traffic jam behind a Ute or 4WD with bumper bar covered in the bogan holy trinity:  ‘I fish and I vote’ or “Fuck off we’re full’ and ‘If you don’t love it LEAVE’

The slogan is an effective piece of propaganda, as good as ‘Loose lips sink ships’ or ‘Keep calm and carry on”. The slogan condenses larger complex issues into a smaller and easy to digest bundle. It is intentionally vague, the sort of people who wear it have a particular message they want to send to new immigrants to this country. It is intimidating, aggressive but in its vagueness a little bizarre.

It attempts to appeal to the reader’s raw emotional state, asking you to love your country or leave it, an all or nothing scenario. Australia takes out the position of someone you are in a relationship with and you have any doubts about that person, then its over.

Every time I see the slogan I get a little angry: Why is this bumper sticker even threatening me anyways? Maybe I don’t love parts of Australia maybe I think parts of Australia are a total shithole, isn’t Australia a free place, why can’t I not love it sometimes?

Where does forcing someone to love something become what is to be Australian? I was under the impression the moment the convicts landed they were sitting around bitching about being sent to a hot, dry island full of insects and reptiles that bite and kill, forced to carve out some kind of meager existence from what was then a very harsh landscape.

When you love something you nurture and look after it, cherish it, wrap it up in cotton wool. How does cutting down thousands of hectares of native bush-land, wiping out flora and fauna, digging massive holes in the ground for mineral resources and killing aboriginal people, destroying thousands of years worth of culture fit in to loving your country.

Why do the very vocal spruikers of this slogan feel it is their personal responsibility to remind people how much everyone should love this country?

It should read “If you don’t love it, Breathe” just chill out a bit-nobody has to love every bit of their country! Have a beer, go for a surf; enjoy life!

 

Krinklewood 2010 Semillon

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The weather had a touch of the apocalypse today, it was greenhouse humid -horrid sweaty and insect prone. I was aching for a nice white but unsure what to choose. The weather just had a touch of the ‘global warming’ to it; super typhoon Haiyan was ploughing through the Philippines and it felt imperative to get something that was conscious of it’s place in the environment.

The first thing I noticed about this Semillon is it’s aroma, it is very strong and full of heavy tones, almost Chardonnay but with that Sauvingon Blanc capsicum pungency. The aroma is, nutty with smoky tones that become hard to ignore while drinking it.

The flavours are subtle enough and enjoyable enough to counter act the effect of aroma, the lime is the strongest tone the more of the wine you taste the more it seems to be citrus rather than straw like; this leaves the impression that the wine has its own singular personality:  A quiet thinking type an individual separate from the crowd, a unique wine, something to make you ask a few questions about how things are done in the wine world.

The wine is, certified bio dynamic and the winery is ethical in the way it produces the wine. To some people this might not matter so much but I have worked in the Hunter Valley for a vineyard who really didn’t care much about environmental issues and who were totally corporate in their outlook in making wine.

It does in the end make a difference to the outcome of the wine, after all the grape is a plant and reacts to the environment around it, more care in how the vine is tended and consciousness about the wine making process can make all the difference in the wine.

The wine is not what I expected in a Semillon it was something that left me thinking about the variety of Semillon as a whole, which is more than you can expect from a wine these days.

McWilliam’s Blue Label Mount Pleasant Hunter Valley Semillon 2006

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After working in the Hunter valley for a while it became clear that one variety stood tall and proud and exhibited the most intricate flavours that it garnered from the region.

Semillon is the Hunter Valley’s flagship variety, and I often found it odd how many people did not recognise this, locals and tourists alike.

The Hunter Valley geographically is not an obvious place that Semillon should excel, the region is prone to horrible fluctuations of weather, each year radically different weather has created some odd results that often is a surprise to those who try the wine.

The first thing you notice when you look at this wine is that beautiful, darker straw like colour, it’s age has given it this delicious tone that gives you hints about what flavours are in the glass.

It has a surprisingly dull aroma, you literally have to dunk your nose into the wine to collect any aromatic information. The best I could fathom was an obvious straw fragrance.

It’s flavours are subtle like the aroma, they lack a little complexity but make up for it by still exhibiting the peppery, lemon and straw like delicateness that is unusual for a wine at this age.

The wine lacks the heavy flavours that come with age, but they are emerging.

This is the sort of wine I would buy on bulk and even wait a little longer to see what happens, it seems to have a little time left on the clock and could even turn into (after 7 years) something that might really be worth trying.

I can’t help feel that there is a little secret here with this wine, that in it’s earlier incarnation 7 years ago over the counter it wasn’t really that impressive.

I am guessing a savvy winemaker made a wise decision to cellar this wine and has totally made the right decision.

You can for $21.95 (at Dan Murphys) have the privilege to enjoy a Semillon that most other Hunter Valley vineyards charge much more to enjoy.

Wolf Blass Gold Label Chardonnay 2011

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I have mixed feelings about the heavy flavours of the Chardonnay, the first taste of wine I ever experienced was a Chardonnay.

My mother handed me a plastic picnic glass, filled with cask Chardonnay the odd smell at that time reminded me of vinegar, sadly turning me off wine for much of my early drinking years.

Many have told me of the pleasures of the Chardonnay, but even within the wine fraternity the feelings are sometimes strained. The problem is not so much the fault of the poor Chardonnay grape, but the worrying force of the market or to be more blunt; popularity. The 80’s left plots of Chardonnay dotted all over Australia that even now vineyards eye with strange uncertainty.

This Wolf Blass Gold Label Chardonnay, grown in the Adelaide hills has shrugged free the deep oak heaviness of the 80’s chardonnay. It reminds me a little of the mineral like Chablis, but with light straw and butterish flavours exhibiting beautiful peach and apricot tones, it has a overall honey effect with all the flavours combined.

The wine reminds me of a very nice Champagne like the Veuve, which has a very small percentage of Chardonnay.

The only negative is that you can still taste a little of that back palate bitterness, this is overtaken by the light and relaxed feel of this wine.

This is a wine that unexpectedly grabbed my attention, it oddly reminded me of a wine with some cellaring, much like a 6 year old (or older) Semillon.

Because of that cellared taste this wine gave me one of those wonderful experiences in life, that of finding a hidden and unexpected gem.

The Australian ritual of bush dancing

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Every year generations of school children will be condemned to hours of shuffling around doing the heel toe heel toe polka, bouncing around the hot and smelly school halls of Australia.

Bush dancing seems to be one of those odd rituals in Australia that seem to resemble something we can call an identity and culture but oddly never really has become part of the collective imagination. Funnily bush dancing is not particularly Australian, nor is it really carried through into any real cultural practice or into a career unlike ballet, drama or fine art.

Our nation that is famous for it’s masculine obsession and prowess for sport seems to take the time to ‘indulge’ in bush dancing. Primary school children in between the grueling ordeal of having to try every sport that is humanly possible take a break and learn a highly organised form of dance, something seemingly feminine and creative.

For those of you who are unaware of  Bush dancing, it is essentially square dancing for retards.

“Bush dance – in general has less emphasis on complex foot work and more about people being in the right place.” -Wikipedia

There is no succinct explanation of why it is called bush dancing, other than the obvious fact that people first danced in halls surrounded by the Australian bush. One might surmise the influence of colonials who encountered Aboriginal tribes who had complex mating and courtship dances. The bush dance could be a European reaction to the courtship rituals seen by the Aboriginal people, a benign form of the mating dance.

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The music of Bush Dancing is essentially folk music with songs like “Bound for South Australia” many have a sea shanty feel about them, many of the songs sound similar and they are rigged to sort of ‘fit’ the rhythm of organised dance.

Many ideas from our colonial past linger here, Australia once a proud, prim and proper nation believing in strict Victorian christian principles. In this environment dances and courtship rituals took place under the watchful eye of a local moral enforcement agency. For some insight it’s good to read a paper from the time to get an idea of just how far people penetrated into others personal lives.

This may explain why we still have these rituals in our schools, a country which still has Queen as the head of state and who is steadfastly glued to it’s murky European convict past, it should be no surprise that a Victorian courtship ritual remains there as well.

There is no harm in this cultural practice, but what is the relevance to kids today? These days Australian youth trundle off to rock festivals every year hammering themselves into mosh pits, dancing up a sweat at bush doof’s fueled with alcohol and drugs finding themselves grinding up against each other in their first sexual encounters.

This experience of Australian youth today is so remote from quaint organised Victorian world of bush dancing.

Bush dancing is resolutely daggy but in a strange way this could be in someways its savoir. Modern hipsters have a knack of finding outdated and daggy practices and making them cool again.

I put the gauntlet down, hipsters take on the bush dance.

Dirty Granny

Dirty-Granny-Cider-Bottle

It is late August in Australia, and we are not used to the cold, it’s like putting a camel in the middle of Antarctica we are just woefully ill equipped for anything below 10 degrees.

Today, finally a warmer day came along, and it oddly coincided with me listening to some warm sounding reggae music, it’s cheerful and happy and it’s time to put the cold days behind me.

It is in this environment, that the apple cider ‘Dirty Granny’ skips along and places itself in front of me, the deliciously dark bubbling glass of apple effervescence.

I feel marketing is a little misleading on this one, it’s not particularly bad marketing in fact It is certainly one of the best labels and marketing efforts I have seen so far in the cider realm, the question I ponder is does this type of marketing fit what is actually in the bottle.

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The marketing is cheeky, clever and has a youth fresh feel, even though it is called ‘Dirty Granny’ it is marketed with a smile, the label and the typeface is cleverly all crochet giving us the warm fuzzy feeling of going to nanna’s place,  once you are there nanna is sinking down a half dozen apple ciders.

On the back of the label it reads (GRANNY SMITH APPLES MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE BEEN USED IN THE MAKING OF THIS CIDER) it was at this point I really started to have a good chuckle Matilda bay, matured cider, granny smith apples Dirty Granny – nice.

The cider however is a little different to the marketing it is a deep and brooding cider, it is a premium product and one that makes you really ponder over it’s different flavours.

Maybe a dark brown studious feel, Cambridge lecture goer, intelligent cider appreciator some script delicate lines sort of thing.

This is the first time I have had the chance to have a properly matured cider and I was impressed. Matured ciders unlock some flavours that make the realm of apple cider infinitely more interesting and worth exploring.

It made me wonder what would happen if you took a cloudy cider like James Squire Orchard Crush and matured it, I am sure it would create something that would leave other ciders miles behind.

I easily sank 5 of these ciders on a Friday afternoon, this was a really pleasant drop and easy to drink, nice work Matilda bay.

It’s not easy being Green

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I find it very hard to come out and say that I support the Greens, it’s not that I am ashamed or that I am not sure of what political party to choose. I probably more sure than ever before the advent of vote compass that the Greens is the party that has the policy and leadership I most adhere to.

The thing that makes me fearful of admitting my green political leanings is the response that others have to the Greens. I rarely hide being a Green, but every time I do come out and talk about my support for this party I just am faced by the oddest reactions by those around me.

I work around plenty of tradesmen many of these men (mostly men) like to think of themselves as tough ordinary blokes who support a fair go. The political opinions with those I have worked with come in three types.

The passionately conservative, the unionised labor ‘workers’ and the totally apathetic. The first camp are so opposed to the Greens party it has become part of their genomes, mainly they think that I am just a little misguided and spend plenty of time trying to ‘point out the error of my ways’.

Mostly I find it very difficult to get these people to admit they are actually conservative, I guess it’s a conservative trait to not want to admit that you are totally conservative. (Is that a kind of paradox?) Once the conservatives come to the realisation that I really do support the Greens and I am not just misguided, I get the same kind of reaction I would if I were in the Taliban.

The unionised Labor supporters tend to illicit a similar response as the conservatives with the exception that they are actually a little bit more educated about the Greens and realise their policies are very similar to Labors. There is a deep distrust of the Greens and they often bring up fishing laws and other forestry issues and label them as extremists. Many of this group worry that the Greens will take all their jobs away by opposing coal mining.

The last group the apathetic are surprisingly high in number, they usually start a political conversation with ‘Whats the point both party is as bad as each other’,  they have a sort of Marvin the Robot attitude to politics. Many have very conservative opinions but are deeply distrustful of all politicians. These people are the swinging voters of Australia and the ones that can change an outcome in an election. What is scary about this group is they often cling onto a rather small and insignificant issue and vote on that not knowing or caring the impact their decision causes.

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All three groups dislike the Greens and they often ask me if I am about to climb up a tree or stand in front of a bulldozer, but mostly they refuse to admit that the Greens are a political force at all.

Maybe I am just very unlucky to be working around these kind of people, there are other Greens voters but they are like small underground rodents in hiding and very difficult to find.

It would be nice if people understood that the Greens are not blowflies, the Greens is a global movement and is slowly gathering strength. Germany had a Greens coalition and was in Government in Germany from 1998 to 2005. (hardly a fringe party). The Greens poll at around 3-7% of the vote in Australia, not huge amount but they roughly get about 3 or 4 seats every election, when you watch an election most electorates have a little green bar.

It isn’t easy being Green and Green supporters are forced to grow a thick skin to take all this garbage people throw at them, and I think this only makes the Greens and Greens supporters stronger.

Be seen be Green!

http://www.greens.org.au/

James Squire Orchard Crush Apple Cider

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There is something oppressive about the apple, put there in your lunch box as a kid while you jealously watch others have Tiny Teddies or Milky Ways.

Apples are there with you through your life, in lunch rooms in the workplace wherever western civilization is the apple is. I have never been excited in my life to have an apple, it’s the filler of foods the uninspiring commonality and it’s supposed to be good for you!

So I guess it shouldn’t be a big surprise that so many apple ciders are just as uninspiring to drink, most try to get away with being like an alcho-pop which are very alcoholic and give a hangover equivalent to one really bad bottle of $8 wine.

However every now and then a cider rises above the other,  James Squire orchard crush is one of these.

Looking at this label, I would never in my life have guessed this was the cider to end all ciders.

The label makes me think ‘Coles supermarket fresh food people’ and it very nearly made me miss this cider altogether. However the quality of James Squire brand spoke for the quality of the cider.

The first thing that separates this cider from many others is it’s cloudyness. It’s milky and the apple flavours permeate throughout the drink giving it many complex flavours.

The cider flavour has a crisp delicate sharp edge, it is spicy sometimes pear like but never so much that the pear takes over.

It is super refreshing, and I felt pretty overwhelmed by just complex this cider was.

This is a premium cider, if you are a cider lover I would suggest you get your hands on as much of this as you can.

http://www.maltshovel.com.au/#/home/

A day in the life of…

I have been thinking about my blog and the way I want to portray myself.

In a way you put yourself as an ‘authority’ on something when you do reviews and talk about different subjects in life.

Reviewers are pipe smoking types retiring in their library while they contemplate the finer points of the things they review. I would like to dispel this myth and distance myself from these haughty types

My place on this earth is one of peasant proletariat worker, and my days are very ordinary ones. My aim here is to empty out the contents of my day and go over it like a crime scene, and expose them for everyone to see.

5.30am 

This is my alarm clock and it is on my wife's side of the bed.
This is my alarm clock and it is on my wife’s side of the bed.

I wake up early because I start at 6:30 am, at the moment in Australia it is fairly cold 13 degrees in the morning which makes it hard to get up.

This particular morning before I had a shower I found my cat Ling ling who decided that he would really like a pat. I spent a little bit of time tiredly contemplating animals and their link to humans. What he was thinking and how he was so reliant on me. He seemed to really enjoy this petting but I had to get ready and I felt sad like a parent abandoning a child.

ling ling
Ling ling

5:50am

Shower, I spent a fair bit of time daydreaming in the shower, I was contemplating a documentary about poisons that I had watched the night before.  Did you know that Botox was extremely poisonous?

As I got out I was still a little sleepy and half the contents of the cabinet fell out onto the ground including a $20 dollar bottle of sleeping droplets my wife bought.

‘Sorry, shit sorry’ I said as I looked at this strange yellow liquid that smelt very odd. I spent some time looking at the orange liquid on the white bathroom bench top before cleaning it up, it made me think that it may be a kind of poison it certianly looked very noxious.

6:00am

Stare off into wilderness at kitchen table for 5 minutes.

6:10am

This is my house it's usually not this light when I leave it.
This is my house it’s usually not this light when I leave it.

Put shoes on and leave house, For those of you who are wondering “what about breakfast”. I don’t have breakfast that’s just me I don’t do breakfast.

6:12am

Hop in my car. It is a 2002 blue Kia Rio, it’s basically a piece of crap and keeps breaking down, I have very little love for it because when I was an Auto electrician I learnt to loathe all things car related.

Today to increase the enjoyment of my journey I put on a brand new episode of the ‘ Sunday Night Safran’  podcast, which is exciting because they have been away for 6 weeks. I giggled away as I drove in the dark.

This isn't actually my car because it was too dark to take a decent photo but it looks exactly like my car.
This isn’t actually my car but it’s the same colour and model

6:20am

Call into servo and buy a coffee and say g’day to Lyndal lady who works behind the counter. ‘The coffee machine is working today’ she usually says.  I often go to find the coffee machine is not working, or run out of milk.

Just recently I have been taking the disturbing trend of skipping the coffee altogether and having a Red bull. I know- its going to kill my liver one day.

6.:29am

Brian chairs the morning meeting and is my boss
Brian chairs the morning meeting and is my boss

Walk up driveway and clock into work, morning meeting. Bell goes at 6:30. My boss Brian (who reluctantly let me take his photo)  chairs our morning meetings. Sometimes the meeting is important, usually it’s just a gossip session.

The meeting starts with a safety moment where people just basically talk about their weekend or some idiot on the road. Every now and then something important happens like a big boss comes down to our section and explains some major change.

I work in a train factory, in a section called ‘cabs’. The cab is a fiberglass hull full of electronics that are on the front of the trains.’ We have a contract to build 160 public trains, we are up to 127.

With no further trains planned people in the factory are beginning to get nervous.

this is the cabs that go on the front of the public trains
This is cabs they go on the front of the public trains

7:00am

earth wiring
Earth wiring

My job for the day is earth wiring, basically I have to cut 50 pieces of varying size wire and place those yellow numbers on each end and put crimps on them.

It’s the easiest task I have to do, but surprisingly repeating the same task like this over and over becomes increasingly difficult the more you do it. The job becomes so repetitive that the only option is to day dream.

During my day dream session today I started to contemplate the politics of trade unionism in the workplace today, discussing finer points with other workers every now and then.

Today’s topic that took center stage was the subject of the American frontier and the vision of a better world or new world. I tried to contrast Australia’s colonial settlement and compare that to the American dream and the ‘Go west ideal’. Basically I decided that Australia never went west it kind of hit a desert and gave up, seeing that vast expanse of desert was just so soul destroying.

I wondered about how this effected the Australian psyche having bugger all arable land to settle on and by then the morning tea bell went off.

Often I dream about art and design seeing I spent a lifetime turning my career around and gaining a degree in Visual communications but today it is the philosophy of the poineering spirit.

9:00am

Morning tea, morning tea is so short that it is hardly worth mentioning. In this time I have a cup of tea and then sometimes just read a little bit of a book if I can.

9:15 -12:30   Fellow workers

This is junior
This is Junior

This is Junior, he is my main work buddy,  usually he is up this ladder.  This particular day he was fairly quiet up there because he was on the phone messaging his wife (Nobody can see him).

Junior’s heritage is Maori and from Samoa which I find fascinating to talk about in regards to culture.  Junior is a Jehovah’s witness and sometimes I have to navigate very carefully around the subject of religion, mostly Junior is very good about it and we hardly ever talk religion. (He knows I am a fairly ardent atheist). Junior can be very funny and we both are always joking around about different things.

Curly
Curly

This is Curly or Keith Boyce, apparently they call him Curly because he has only one hair on his head. Some guys also call him ‘poppy’.

Curly is one of those people of an older generation who is a bit of a know it all. Junior and I often play jokes on Curly which he takes fairly well.

Curly can sometimes be a fun person to be around he always has a story and he usually brings the whole group together in his own way. However he can also be a little bit nasty and small minded. He does from time to time make brutally racist comments which Junior and myself have found very offensive.

12:30-Lunch

Chris
Chris at lunch

This is Chris, he sits across from me at lunch and is my fellow electrician. Chris is a very good electrician but he also has the record for being the clumsiest person in our section often tripping or falling over.

He is also probably the most conservative person I have met in this workplace.

We talk about real estate every day even though I find the topic essentially very boring. He often gets very upset over different things and I am basically not allowed to ask him about being Catholic anymore.

Afternoon downhill run -1:00 to 3:30

Different images from the afternoon.

Philosophically minded worker, in the toilet.
Philosophically minded worker, in the toilet.
This is a window where I work
This is a window where I work, I often look out it and think about abstract art.
I have never witnessed anyone band their head on it yet.
I have never witnessed anyone bang their head on it yet.
Outside the shed Boring huh!
Outside the shed-Boring huh!

2:45 packing up and going home!

At the end of this particular day I had to unwrap the wiring loom of these red bubble wrap things, hundreds of them.

Sometimes I have nightmares about this red bubble wrap.

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Red bubble wrap I hate you!

Before knocking off we have to ‘colour in’.  The colouring in sheet is about bosses being able to keep track of what we are doing.

At first it was a way of saying ‘do your work’ but it is never mentioned anymore so I think now it has become a rough guide for office types who don’t know what the hell we are doing on these trains.

Colouring in sheet
Colouring in sheet

3:30–Home time

Clock out line before knocking off
Clock out line before knocking off
Walking home
Walking home

4:30pm

I am deciding on building a new deck on the back of my house and Chris the builder spent most of the afternoon planning out exactly what it would look like, it started to rain and you can see the rain drops on our plans.

Plans for deck
Plans for deck

5:30pm – Bedtime

I started writing this blog post, editing and re-editing it.  Between that I posted a picture of Ling ling on Facebook.

I later paid my registration for the KIA and then ate a toasted sandwich.

This is my day, I could go into more detail about it but it probably really would bore everyone to tears.

Philip Wolfhagen – ILLUMINATION The art of Philip Wolfhagen

View to the past

Today I visited Newcastle Art Gallery where there was a Philip Wolfhagen exhibition.

Wolfhagen is from Longford Tasmania, at his touring exhibition he had mini documentary about himself, which me and a few other artsy baby boomer types took the time to watch on a comfy modern couch.

Wolfhagen’s work is mostly landscapes his images of the sky are very similar to that of William Turner. They are quite dark and heavy and he paints mainly using the palette knife using very dull colours that he mixes with bees wax. His paintings have a touch of Early Australian colonial paintings like Joseph Lycett and John Glover.

Joseph Lycett :  Inner view of Newcastle (circa 1818)
Joseph Lycett : Inner view of Newcastle (circa 1818)

For those of you who have never used oil paint, the subject of the sky in this medium lends itself to abstraction. It becomes much more about how we ‘think’ they should look. Clouds move and change and take on all sorts of colours, often in Turners pictures we see his own emotions erupt and bubble onto the canvas while he navigates the geometry of a cloud.

It is at first easy to be fooled into thinking that Wolfhagen is a realist, some images tend to give you the impression he is making a statement about society. His night time images of the landscape with small clusters of lights indicating the human presence seem to be bristling with a kind of depressing yearning.

Philip Wolfhagen : Drawing The Light In IV 2008
Philip Wolfhagen :
Drawing The Light In IV 2008

In the caption for his paintings  Litany of vapours he writes “I was thinking of climate change when I painted this”  does this gives away Wolfhagen’s state of mind?  His dream of the natural and wish to rise above society altogether and transcend the banality of everyday life?  Or is this a dire warning a forboding image of the grey dark turbulent world we are creating.

Wolfhagen is at heart an abstract expressionist and under each painting is dark under painting that he purposefully leaves spaces around the edge of  to give a look of wearing or like a Jasper Johns painting giving the feeling that just underneath is something; and I want you all to see that I am doing my best to contain it all.

Some of his paintings are unshakably John Rothko in flavour, where the dream of the city and the country merge. The spaces shapes and colours of the modern world are just there to see.

Landscape Semaphore No.2 2004
Landscape Semaphore No.2 2004

Many pictures are dull and depressing, some are strikingly clear and blue / grey in a way that reminds me of looking the at the world after half a dozen Valiums. There is an idealism here but a yearning for civilization as well.

Wolfhagen gives me the impression he is one of those artists who has done well from doctors and Lawyers and now from national galleries. He is being adopted by Australian Galleries in their canon because he is doing what they want of him : being a modern artist painting the Australian landscape.

I felt distant from Wolfhagen at first but after a while I warmed to his paintings if you look hard enough his style is a bit of a blend, Wolfhagen is a simmering artist someone that could potentially surprise people.