Michael Walker new EP: Now and then

Michael Walker: Now and then; Original painting Sue Smith: Pocket of resistanceIn a radio interview in 1984, Michael Walker and Glen Muirhead from the band Solid Citizens were told their single ‘Singing in the shower’ had entered as number one, in its first week in the Bathurst charts displacing Michael Jackson’s current hit.Solid Citizens Singing in the shower 2015 remix

This success was the culmination of hard work and perseverance which had led them to record with producers, Mike Shipley and Mark Goldenberg, at the famed Manor Studios in Oxfordshire, UK. Shipley had just finished recording and mixing ‘Heartbeat City’ for the Cars, and Goldenberg had recently co-written ‘Automatic’ for the Pointer Sisters.

Michael and Glen were the founding members of Solid Citizens and, in 1982, released an independent single ‘You’re not alone’ which received airplay on 4ZZZ, FM104, was 2JJ DJ Tom Zelenka’s “song of the year” and resulted in deals with MCA Music and RCA Records.

“Recording at the Manor was interesting,” reflects Walker. “Apart from working in one of the world’s best studios with two of the hottest producers/songwriters in the world, we spent two weeks sharing the residential studios with studio owner, Richard Branson, who was an engaging eccentric”.

The release of ‘Singing in the shower’ led to an appearance on ABC’s Countdown, and the song charting in the national top 40.

Solid CitiSolid Citizens: Care at all 2015 re-master. Sue Smith original art work 'A little hope a little whimsy'zens record company RCA Records released another single 'Care at all' in 1985, but the company was in disarray at the time with the US parent company shutting down the local A&R department, and releasing only international content.

In the late 1980s, Michael Walker moved to the UK as a songwriter, where he worked with UK writers, musicians, acclaimed producers Richard Manwaring and Mike Shipley, and recorded songs for MCA Music and Rondor Music.

Touching the hem of international success, time and money ran out, and in the 1990s Michael returned to Australia, where he worked and mentored emerging bands and musicians.

In 2008, Michael was a judge in a local band competition in Rockhampton. Perturbed at the lack of knowledge local musicians had about the music business, Michael initiated the first major music summit in regional Queensland in 2009 with 23 nationally and internationally recognised guest speakers conducting workshops over the three day event. www.rockon.org.au

Sue Smith "Swept Away"

SWEPT AWAY: Australian artist Sue Smith presented a "sold out" exhibition of her paintings at the Walter Reid Cultural Centre, Rockhampton in 2011, and is currently painting for her new exhibition to be held at The Perc Tucker Regional Gallery in Townsville, Queensland, Australia and to be opened 19 December 2014


Sue Smith in her studio 2011Information about artist Sue Smith's successful previous solo exhibition "Swept Away" is available here. 

QFF Executive Director, Woodford Founder and Director Bill HauritzThe exhibition was opened by Bill Hauritz AM, Executive Director of the Queensland Folk Federation, Founder and Director of the Woodford Folk Festival.

“I first became aware of Sue’s paintings when I was in Rockhampton for the ROCKon Music industry summit in 2009. It was obvious to me then, she had the talent, passion and intellect to pursue a career in painting, and it’s a great pleasure for me to open what I consider a very significant exhibition” Mr. Hauritz said.

Surrealism: the poetry of dreams


Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art presents a large exhibition of surrealist paintings, sculpture, objects, films, photographs, drawings and collages, writes Sue Smith

June 11, 2011 ─ October 2, 2011
Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane

Victor Brauner Loup - Table (wolf table) 1939, 1947 Wood and taxidermied foxA large exhibition, drawn from the collection of Paris’s Musée National d’Art Moderne, of 180 works by European artists René Magritte, Victor Brauner and many other surrealists working from the 1910s to the late 1960s has been drawing delightedly puzzled crowds to Brisbane's Gallery of Modern Art (the exhibition’s only Australian venue).
Paris in the early 20th century saw the growth of a new art form called surrealism.  Both a formal movement and a spiritual orientation, surrealism embraced ethics and politics as well as the arts.  Surrealist artists sought to create a medium that liberated the subconscious mind, making use of automatism, paranoia or the exploration of dreams.

The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso and the Parisian Avant-Garde


San Francisco Museum of Modern Art reunites some unparalleled holdings of modern art, writes Sue Smith

May 21, 2011 ─ September 6, 2011: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Pablo Picasso: Portrait of Gertrude Stein 1906, Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYAMERICAN expatriates in bohemian Paris when the 20th century was young, the Steins – writer Gertrude, her brothers Leo and Michael, and Michael’s wife, Sarah – were among the first to recognise the talents of avant-garde painters like Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso.  Through their friendship and patronage, they helped spark an artistic revolution. 

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art exhibition has drawn on collections from around the world to reunite the Steins’ unparalleled collections of modern art, bringing together, for the first time in a generation, some 60 works by Matisse, 40 by Picasso and another 100 by Bonnard, Cézanne, Gris, Picabia and Renoir, all once owned by various Steins.

Jack Thompson acts to save Aboriginal Rock Art



Professor Paul Tacon and actor Jack ThompsonAUSTRALIA'S priceless Aboriginal rock art sites may be decimated within the next fifty years.

That is the view of Griffith University's first Chair of the Aboriginal Rock Art Research Centre, Professor Paul Tacon, who is widely acknowledged as one of the world's leading experts on the subject.

Professor Tacon and passionate supporter, Australian actor Jack Thompson, launched the campaign "Protect Australia's Spirit" in Sydney on 31 May 2011.

The Australian actor first saw Aboriginal rock carvings as a child in Bondi:  "I said, 'Holy mackerel, look at that'," said Thompson of his first experience of one of the world's oldest art forms.

Large naturalistic animals: Kakadu National ParkProf Tacon is seeking support and funding for a joint initiative of Griffith University, the Australian National University and the University of WA to document and shield the estimated 100,000 rock art sites around Australia.  The project would initially identify one hundred of the most significant rock art sites and aims to digitally archive and categorise sites to  develop strategies for rock art site management and preservation.

Aboriginal Rock Art Tours

Grafico Topico's travel writer Monsieur Flaneur dons his akubra hat and explores Australian Aboriginal Rock Art.

Stand up for the Burrup group photo at the LouvreMES AMIS, Flaneur's appetite for Australian Aboriginal art began quite by chance when he stumbled across this curieux group (pictured left) in his very own ville in 2008.

Who were these so intriguingly folkloric-costumed personnes, he wondered, so eagerly ready to man the barricades ... pour qui, one wondered?

After a tentative inquiry, all was revealed: the "Stand up for the Burrup", it appears, is an ongoing campaign of the "Friends of Australian Rock Art" to protect the outstanding 30,000 year old rock art in Western Australia which one is told houses 500,000 individual rock art works and engravings. (Non! Incroyable!)

William Robinson: The Transfigured Landscape

Creation Landscape: Man and the spheres. Art Gallery of NSW collection


Brisbane’s QUT Art Museum surveys a consummate Australian landscapist, writes Sue Smith

William Robinson: The Transfigured Landscape
April 17, 2011 ─ August 14, 2011
QUT Art Museum, Brisbane, Australia

Rainforest and romantic time travel...

Living in the country everything moves - the seasons, the clouds, nothing is set.
There are things all around you and you are in it. Everything is constantly moving.… You begin to realise that you are in a landscape that is really the crust of the earth. It is air and ground.  We’re all just spinning through space.  There is something about the painting that is indefinite, not solid. We don’t really have an orientation in this infinity. … You begin to question what time is.  Time isn’t something that is just measured on a clock.  Time can also be a mind thing - you can be a time-traveller with your mind in a painting.
William Robinson

Half a dozen reasons..to visit the USA Midwest

Grafico Topico’s gallivanting Gaul, Monsieur Flaneur, extols a summer excursion to the US Midwest’s leading metropolises: Chicago, Saint Louis and Kansas City, all within easy reach of each other by plane, train or motor bus. Well worth a visit, he enthuses, they have superb culture, parks and gardens, design, fashion and food. In short, there’s so much more to the central heart of America than tornadoes, Dorothy and Toto and Judy Garland …


Taste of Chicago 2009America’s second city, Chicago, is très riche in museums, fabulous skyscrapers, music, fashion, comedy, and, Flaneur would venture, just about anything else your heart would desire in a world metropolis.

But eating is one of the singular adventures of travel and this fascinating place has an equally remarkable annual summer food festival in the park which has attracted Americans for some years: “Taste of Chicago”, June 24 to July 3, 2011, Grant Park, Michigan Avenue and Congress Drive. www.tasteofchicago.us

There is no entry charge to the 10-day fete and participating restaurants offer a tremenous choice of cuisine, conveniently in one place, from ethnic and exotic styles to Chicago specialities. For the non-American visitor, the festival is also a piquant habitat in which to observe the customs, dress and dialect, and perhaps to engage in stimulating discourse with, a great throng of Chicagoans.

This year, owing to the national recession, four of the city’s annual lakefront music festivals will be incorporated into Taste of Chicago (rather than running as stand-alone events), adding even more interest to the event. Details of what is described as a family-oriented entertainment program will be available from late March at: www.chicagoparkdistrict.com

Monet, the constant gardener


The Foundation Claude Monet: Monet's house and gardenGrafico Topico finds everything blooming beautiful at Giverny … but whether you go to France or not, a bouquet of books and a video / DVD offers an enjoyable armchair tour



THE MOST visited garden of its size in the Western world is claimed to be Claude Monet’s garden, with house and studios, at Giverny, 50 km north from Paris off the A13 motorway. Lovingly restored in 1980, the house and garden, known as the Fondation Claude Monet now receive half a million visitors a year. (www.fondation-monet.com. Open Apr-Oct daily)

The Magic of Monet's Garden by Derek Fell

A century earlier, in 1883, when Monet settled at the age of 43 with his family at Giverny, he was a successful exhibiting artist and, never one to horde his money, spent his newfound wealth mostly on his garden, says Derek Fell in The Magic of Monet’s garden (David Bateman).

At first Monet enlisted the help of his children to weed and water, but soon he employed a head gardener and up to eight assistant gardeners. He was no dilettente, however, and (at least in the early years) was very practical and hands-on, often digging the ground himself: the art critic Octave Mirbeau described Monet in his shirt sleeves, suntanned and happy, “his arms black with compost.”

Margaret Olley

Grafico Topico Update: In memory of Margaret Olley

Although from some years ago, Sue Smith feels this review still captures the essence of Margaret Olley's approach to art and life.

Rushcutter's Bay and Still Life
Margaret Olley

Philip Bacon Galleries
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia 1998

Review by Grafico Topico's SUE SMITH

An edited version of this review was first published in The Courier-Mail 17 October,1998

Margaret Olley "Rushcutter's Bay and Still Life"

THERE'S nothing like painting what you're familiar with," says Margaret Olley. "You can do all sorts of things with the ordinary." She pauses to consider the alternatives. "To go off and paint the Swiss mountains is a monumental task, best left to God!"

But though Olley, 76, mostly paints still-lifes and the interiors of her own house, her world is anything but limited. She is a knowledgeable benefactor, who has given to public galleries works by Arthur Boyd, Edgar Degas and Georgio Morandi, as well as early Indian sculptures and miniatures.

The range and depth of her own art has also been recently discovered: last year, an acclaimed retrospective exhibition of her work, presented in Sydney, Brisbane and Newcastle, showed landscapes, nudes and self-portraits, as well as the interiors for which she is well-known.

And Olley has always been an open-minded traveller, absorbing new cultures and the master painters like a sponge: "I'm always trying to learn, (going) to the great sources," she says. In May this year, she went to London to see a huge Bonnard retrospective; before that, there was Rembrandt in Australia, Vermeer in Europe, and Matisse in New York. She has excellent recall, describing in detail paintings and exhibitions she has seen up to forty years ago.

As we speak, Olley talks constantly about the masters. It is partly a defense mechanism, a way of gently deflecting probing questions -- like most artists, Olley is reluctant to talk about the whys and wherefores of her own work. But she also loves these artists: they are her touchstones, her guiding angels. When, for example, she chooses to paint her favourite yellow room half a dozen times -- as in her current show at Brisbane's Phillip Bacon Galleries -- somewhere at the back of her mind are works such as Picasso's variations on the "seated woman" theme, a series she saw in Paris and has never forgotten.


Subscribe to Grafico Topico RSS