Geoffrey Stapleton

THE Geoffrey Stapleton GALLERY

July 2 - July 31 - 2011


Ocean 1

This was the first of the “Oceans and Deserts” pieces. I began painting it in the hot Adelaide December of 1999 and the colours, the blue greens, seemed to cool me down. We’d just relocated from Sydney where we’d had a flat right on the harbour at Darling Point and I was missing it. I was missing the sound of the boats moored across the road and how at night when we sat out on the balcony, they sounded like big gin and tonics. By 2000, the internet had already insinuated itself into most aspects of our lives and I was teaching myself to build websites and looking at a lot of code. The tiled steps are Brazilian.
90cm x 120cm - acrylic on board





Romance Of The Sea

“Romance Of the Sea” was gradually built up over a number of years, adding objects every now and then. The first additions were the kissing gold fish and the last addition was the striped fish. I also got to paint an old sailing ship which I’d always enjoyed drawing as a child.
120cm x 90cm - acrylic on board




Sailing 1

When we lived on New Beach Road, Darling Point, we lived on the third story of a block of flats overlooking Sydney Harbour, the most beautiful harbour in the world. More specifically, it was just up from the Rushcutters Bay Marina. This is from where the Sydney - Hobart yacht race departs each year, and we would watch the spectacle from our balcony. If you walk around Rushcutters Bay Park and look toward the marina it is literally a forest of masts, sails and rope. The white sails against the blue sky and the harbour, clean enough to sustain an abundance of marine life. Nice.
90cm x 120cm - acrylic on canvas





Touring Brazil

In 2001 GANGgajang toured Brazil for the third time, and this time were proud to be joined by Yothu Yindi. A lot of the touring was done by bus which would've been fine had the wheels stayed on. Driving through rural Brazil I was told about the heady mixture of Voodoo and Catholicism that was practiced in some parts. We crossed a river and glancing back for a frozen moment, I glimpsed the beautiful white and purple flowers.
90cm x 120cm - acrylic on board





Buildings With Leaves

I painted this picture sitting in a hotel room of the Royalty Barra Hotel in Barra De Tajuca in Rio De Janeiro. It was the day after we'd performed to 20,000 on the beach just up from Copacabana and we had the day off. The hotel wasn't too bad but my room was small with no view and when the air conditioning packed up I was amazed (after complaining three times) to be transferred to the 6th floor with beach views and a balcony. I spent a most enjoyable day in my new room painting "Building With Leaves".
40cm x 30cm - acrylic on canvas (framed)




Flying Into Rio (Domestic)

In January 2001 I flew into Rio De Janeiro airport (domestic) sitting next to that great Australian, Mundawuy Yunupingu, lead singer of Yothu Yindi and deservedly “Australian Of The Year” in 1992. We were discussing, of all things, Michael Jackson and his sometimes puzzling behaviour when Mundawuy pointed out Corcovado and The Big Jesus. The Rio we are flying into in this painting is the Rio I’d always imagined Rio to be.
(diptych - part 1) 90cm x 120cm - acrylic on board



Flying Into Rio (Domestic)

The first time I toured Brazil in 1995, I couldn’t get over the beautiful black and white (and occasionally red) tiled footpaths, and they’re everywhere. The patterns and designs are sublime and they have an energy and rhythm like everything else in Brazil. I also became obsessed with collecting these little clay figures after discovering, in the northern city of Recife, the yellow one with black spots and white head I called “Alligator Man” and based a whole exhibition around in 1998 at the "Mary Place Gallery" in Paddington, Sydney.
(diptych - part 2) 90cm x 120cm - acrylic on board




Life and Death

Life And Death

“Life and Death” was painted as the centrepiece for the ”Oceans and Deserts” exhibition and was the final painting created for the series. The place where the ocean meets the desert. It was painted at a time of great personal loss and the flotsam and jetsam of my life can be seen bobbing about in the shallows. It was also the last of the paintings created at the much loved Balfour St. Nailsworth studio, a.k.a. “The Blue Cat Studio” in August 2010.
200cm x 120cm - acrylic on board





Anatomy Of A Guitar

“Anatomy Of A Guitar” is a personal favourite. I was pleased with the idea of the single string being stretched over the guitar but then wrapped around the canvas edge. I also liked the fact that we share anatomical features with the guitar, like the body and neck (not to mention the sound hole). I added the eye for the insight we gain through music.
100cm x 75cm - acrylic on canvas




Sienna's New Phone

When our daughter Sienna was about 11 years old it seemed as though everyone had a mobile phone but her. Her mean father (me) would say "No you can't" for a whole swag of reasons. For one, it concerned me that it would connect her to the scary world out side our home that I had no control of. Then there was the worry of microwaves and the brain and all that. Anyway, her loving aunt came to her rescue and she was soon the owner of the latest, brand new, super-stylish, trend-setting (and obsolete at it leaves the store) mobile phone. Then comes the calls and texts from people she doesn't really want to hear from while waiting for the person she really wants to call her back, who doesn't.
100cm x100cm - acrylic on canvas





Crane With Grasshopper

“Crane With Grasshopper” was begun around 2007 and appeared fully formed emerging quickly from some random strokes on the canvas. A hot Adelaide January night in 2011, saw it finished off. The "shower head" plants remind me of the Lotus Garden in the Adelaide Botanic Gardens I have loved since childhood. Poor old grasshopper... or perhaps not.
100cm x 75cm - acrylic on canvas






Although I knew there were mountainous outcrops in Rio De Janeiro like Corcovado and Sugarloaf I wasn't prepared for the sheer drama of them rising up right out of the populated suburbs. It was astounding. I could see an enormous outcrop not far from my hotel room at the "Royalty Barra Hotel" in Barra De Tajuca where I began this painting. Cal wrote a song that never saw the light of day but had a wonderful magic/realism feel. I used the lyric in the painting. "Then one night at Corcovado, Beneath the arms of the Redeemer, She arose into the sky, And she was gone."
40cm x 30cm - acrylic on canvas (framed)




Rock Pool

With “Rock Pool” I took an almost workman-like approach to the painting, building it up stone by stone. There were a few unexpected surprises along the way though like the fish bowl in the water, the pin cushion and the cathedral effect at the bottom of the waterfall. To solve problems , I added things purely for balance and form, paying scant heed as to whether the background was close or distant. That’s always fun. This is another summer painting and, like the "Ocean 1 " painting, it seemed to keep me a few degrees cooler as I worked on it.
15cm x 10cm - acrylic on canvas




Two Halos

The fact that a painting is small doesn't mean it's easy to finish. You hope that with each new painting there will be some unique idea or angle that will justify it's existence. It took me a surprisingly long time to get the angel how I wanted it, but still it didn't look right. It wasn't until added the second halo that it finally looked finished.
15cm x 10cm - acrylic on canvas





Goldfish With Brushes

It's very rare that I paint a gold fish without thinking of the Colonel in Marquez's novel "One Hundred Years Of Solitude". Perhaps I'm subconsciously trying to evoke the spirit of magic/realism yet knowing it would be phony, what I'd really want to do next is...melt them fishes down. There also appears on the manuscript paper a drawing of a "Fuzzy" invented by Sienna as a child and a "Doofus", invented by Josef when he was a child.
60cm x 45cm - acrylic on canvas




Tree Of Love

“Tree Of Love” was inspired by the song of the same name written by Mark “Cal” Callaghan and recorded by GANGgajang on the 1987 album GANGagain. It proved to be a popular song in Brazil where it’s sung as “árvore do amor”. I have thought that perhaps the tree is in fact the “tree of infatuation”, covered as it is in glittering and glistening diversions, and the Tree Of Love is in fact the old oak tree behind the little door in the back panel. The lyric quoted in the painting is..."Every saint and every sinner, As they paw the desert sand, For the fruit that falls each night, From the Tree Of Love".
100cm x 75cm - acrylic on canvas




Apart from our bodies being a good part water and, as with the tides, affected by the moon, where would art , music and literature be without The Moon. "Blue Moon, You saw me standing alone." Sometimes it feels as though the moon isn't some distant body at all, but something familiar and close by, in fact, embedded in our very existence. This the companion piece to "Sun" from the "Oceans and Deserts" series.
45cm x 45cm - acrylic on canvas




The Long Way Home

They say that home is where the heart is but often as not the heart isn't so easy to locate. As there's no map, navigation by intuition becomes the order of the day and it can be a perilous journey that may take a very long time and leave you feeling sea sick. The quest for true love though is a noble one, and when attained, is the greatest thing you'll ever know.
40cm x 120cm - acrylic on canvas




Moon With Petal and Feather

One of the interesting things about working on a "series" of paintings over a long period of time is that you are really painting just one big picture, albeit in many parts. Random objects are repeated and become motifs, motifs are used again and become somehow significant until after a decade or so you find yourself with a bit of a unique vocabulary going on ...even if you're the only one who can understand it! But I can honestly say ( putting into words what couldn't be put into words in the first place so you painted it not withstanding) I never went looking for it. The feather became whatever it is..."hope" perhaps or the ability of the spirit to soar and the frangipani petal became well, a drop of love I suppose ... but the point is, they weren't "devised", they were yielded up over time... I don't know why that matters.
20cm x 25cm - acrylic on canvas




The Dad

Until you become a dad, you are the most important person in the world. Nothing stands in the way of your needs being met and the pursuit of all things You, that bring You pleasure and success and happiness. When you become a dad, suddenly there is someone far more important than you. Their needs are paramount, way more important than your own. The thing is though, it is in fact an enormous relief to no longer be "World's Most Important Person". Being a dad is the best thing I ever had happen to me and even though I don't believe in God, I do feel blessed.
60cm x 30cm - acrylic on canvas






When I showed this painting to my friend Father Sean who happens to be an Irish Catholic priest, he suggested I call it "Meditation" and I can see why he would suggest that. The thing is, I find there is just a bit too much distraction in their eyes and that alerts me to the possibility that they have performed this particular procedure a number of times before. Enough to become a ritual. I suppose meditation can easily become a part of your ritual anyway so Father knows best after all.
40cm x 50cm - acrylic on canvas




Blue Pin

Throughout the "Oceans And Deserts" series it is the humble pin that has emerged as the most useful of all the problem-solving devices and it is probably as an aesthetic acupuncture needle that it has become most indispensable. Simply locate the trouble spot and add a needle/pin (with appropriate colour choice) and the problem goes away. I can also use it to attach, amongst other things, quite disparate things in a painting and they still make some kind of sense...the pin is the conduit..the pin makes it plausible... and it's short, sharp and shiny.
10cm x 10cm - acrylic on canvas




H.G.Wells certainly crossed my mind once or twice as I worked on this picture and I liked the idea of mixing that up with some futuristic elements. A few years later when everyone started talking about "Steampunk", I had a bit of an inkling as to where they were coming from.
100cm x 75cm - acrylic on canvas




Fish With Hooks

Some days it really does feel as though the world is out to get you as you navigate your way among the new day's fresh supply of sharp and shiny hooks. I like to leave my manuscript fish un-notated so the viewer can add their own notes, chords or melody later. For example, for some it may be the theme from "Gone Fishin'"
30cm x 15cm - acrylic on canvas






This is a companion piece to "Desert Crash" from the "Deserts" series. The world under water, so ultimately fatal to humans yet of course business as usual for fish. It always seems to enhance the horror by seeing the familiar every day things like a salt shaker or someone's key down there in the watery grave.
75cm x 40cm - acrylic on canvas





Sometimes it's important for me to not have a plan when I begin a painting then you never know how it's going to turn or what will emerge. I was amazed to see a kind of South America Mayan - like character make his presence felt. The red paint, incredibly, was a happy accident, it splashed onto the canvas by mistake ... but it was only then that he became the "warrior".
40cm x 50cm - acrylic on canvas




The Effect Of The Moon On The Tides Of Man

I was astounded when someone first alerted me to the fact that we are made up of 98 or 65 or what ever it is % of water and that just as the moon affects other bodies of water like the ocean tides and so on, so it affects our lives. Although this canvas started life as a companion piece to the "Desert" painting ,"Trust", it soon took off to somewhere completely unexpected when my back was turned and it became more and more complex as they occasionally do. To mix in a few metaphors, it was like a thread unravelling as I chased the train wondering where it would all end. Just then three gold fish swam into view soon putting an end to all that nonsense.
60cm x 50cm - acrylic on canvas







Sailing 3

I always liked the idea of perpetual motion. The sailing ship is being powered by its own wind guy who is set up behind the sail, who I can only assume gets his energy from the movement of the ship and the slipstream or the vacuum created by it. I doubt the concept would hold up under scientific scrutiny.




Four Hearts

For "Four Hearts" I painted a cross on the canvas which divided it into four and I put a heart into each box. I think, to a certain extent, we compartmentalise our hearts with special and seperate places for the various things we love or care about. It was interesting to paint it and also watch it unfold. I left one of the heart-shaped holes opening to the desert. It's "Deserts" companion piece is called "Four More Hearts" and one of those hearts opens back to the "Oceans". But then what happens when I finally get it to sit right?..., a school of goldfish swim by!
30cm x 25cm - acrylic on canvas
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Life And Liberty

In the South of Brazil there is a beautiful city called Florianopolis on the Island of Santa Catarina. It is a favourite holiday destination for Argentineans as well as Brazilians and GANGgajang has always been well received there. In a break from the grind of the tour we had a days rest and recreation there but unlike on previous visits the accommodation was not good. In fact Stuart Kellaway from Yothu Yindi described the rooms as, "70's, low-budget, porn-film sets." I lucked out though and was put into a far more civilised section of the hotel, aptly named "Hotel Faial" and spent the day painting "Life And Liberty".
30cm x 40cm - acrylic on canvas (framed)





Note To Self

The first public art that affected me was undoubtedly the great avenging angel at the war memorial in North Terrace, Adelaide, South Australia. We would go to see the floats in the John Martins Xmas Pageant and leave feeling warm and fuzzy then turn around to walk back to the busstop only to come face to face, (or face to toe) with this massive, marble, deco, naked but for sword and wreath, avenging angel. It was the wings that used to get me. These great enormous wings of doom. Awesome, both in the old fashioned sense of the word and in the modern vernacular. I rarely paint an angel without (at least subconciously) thinking of Mr Rayner Hoff's "Spirit Of Duty" angel.
100cm x 75cm - acrylic on canvas




Touring sections of Brazil by bus meant there were quite a few road stops and many of the roadhouses were very basic. Although Brazil is no place for vegetarians, there was always plenty of rice, beans, chilli and a selection of condiments available. Yes, there was certainly plenty of rice and beans.
30cm x 40cm - acrylic on canvas (framed)
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A Heaven

One day, out of the blue, my mum got sick and was rushed to hospital in an ambulance. Although she was in her eighties, it was completely unexpected and it made me only too aware of her mortality and I suppose my own. With a shy hope that perhaps there is some kind of life after death I knew if there was a heaven, that's where my mother would be going.
100cm x 75cm - acrylic on canvas




So often creative pursuits involve long periods of time spent by yourself chasing ideas whether it be in the fields of science or the arts or a mixture of both as in designing and building websites. Some times that aloneness can become loneliness which isn't so much fun, but as long as the fish of creativity is still swimming in the general vicinity, that too can perhaps be channelled into something positive.
12.5cm x 12.5cm - acrylic on canvas





Lovebirds Having Flown

Every relationship we have shapes us in one way or another and leaves an imprint of some kind, especially ones we call "affairs of the heart". Sometimes these relationships just don't work out for any number of reasons though it is usually only one of the two involved who wants it to end. People can't just erase this person or these experiences from their memory and the remnants of the relationship can stay with us forever. Occasionally it's just too much for the other person to bear.
40cm x 50cm - acrylic on canvas



Lights Of Sao Paulo

On January 28th 2001, two great Australian bands, GANGgajang and Yothu Yindi had just flown into Brazil from Johanessberg, South Africa. The lights of Sao Paulo from the air just seemed endless, it's such a huge city. I spent the next day at The Ginza Hotel, Rua Galvao Bueno, 700 Liberdade, Sao Paulo, painting "Lights Of Sao Paulo" in the blue/green colour I now knew I would use for what would become the "Oceans" series.
40cm x 30cm - acrylic on canvas (framed)

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“Oceans and Deserts” represents a unique collection of work by artist Geoffrey Stapleton. This is a video of Stapleton previewing the exhibition from his Nailsworth studio.