Category Archives: Art


Meanjin: portrait of a city on fire

“Optimism of the will, pessimism of the intellect” – Antonio Gramsci This is my 70th year of living in Brisbane. Never once in those years have I been asked to re-imagine the city where I grew up in the 1950s … Continue reading


GOMA film: ‘The Daughter of Dawn’

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Thought to have been lost for over 85 years The Daughter of Dawn 1920, which was restored in 2013, features an entirely Native American cast with members of theComanche and Kiowa Tribes as well as the son and daughter of legendary Comanche chief Quanah Parker. Continue reading

Art tells the story

THREE years ago the not so magnificent seven of us were sitting around, drinking coffee and eating crackers laden with chili-cheese dip.
We were gathered in the comfortable recreation room – actually a detached building – at the home of Arts Alliance president Ken Armstrong.
It was one of monthly meetings of the alliance we had formed two years earlier as an umbrella organisation to represent the artists of our local area.
President Ken did not have to travel to meetings at his place and in exchange for that comfort, he supplied the excellent coffee, tasty dips and the occasional small glasses of red wine.
Representing the arts community,  those of us who enjoyed a quiet drink felt it was fitting to indulge in the traditional arty red rather than a white cousin.
Theatrical representative Ray Swenson suggested the Alliance put together  an anthology of short stories from local writers.
Artists Ken Armstrong and Daniel Wagon said we should illustrate each story. The annual arts alliance anthology was born. Ken and Dan produced the covers for the first anthologies.
Ken took on the role of Illustrations  Editor at our usual rate of pay  –  priceless appreciation for a love job well done.
An  anthology of short stories, each with original illustration, is a rare beast.   I am yet to see one from the Big Six mainstream publishers. Such a creation for the vow of Bent Banana Books to produce books that are different.
I present a selection of the  art from  our 2010 and 2011 anthologies.
Bernie Dowling

Munching the Millions

Munching the Millions

Munch’s The Scream

AUSTRALIANS will gamble on two flies. crawling up a wall, they say.

Aussie bookmaker Tom Waterhouse is currently betting on how much Edvard Munch’s painting The Scream will fetch at a Southey’s auction this month.

Waterhouse has previously wagered on the winners of reality shows such as Dancing with the Stars and The Voice to add a bit of zest to mundane wagers on political elections and Academy Awards.

Waterhouse’s mother is leading Australian racehorse trainer Gai and the bookie regularly reports on Monday how punters cleaned him out on Saturday backing Mum’s horses such as great mare More Joyous and unbeaten 2-year-old Pierro. It is always “Mum’s horse” though it is a surprise the trainer does not say, “When I am in a professional capacity, it is Ms Waterhouse to you, sonny boy.”

Tom Waterhouse needs to bet on an exotic event such as the Southeby’s auction to recoup some of the damage Mum’s ponies have reeked on the bottom line. It does not hurt that weird bets attract media attention, something London bookie Ladbrokes worked out decades ago.

I do not know how much Tom and Mum know about art but I would like to think it is a lot. It is comforting to believe wealthy people might slip a few stray bucks the way of artists.

Here is Tom’s analysis of the race to buy The Scream or Le Cri, in the land of the Oo-La-La.

“Sotheby’s in New York is auctioning one of four versions of The Scream created by Edvard Munch and, as the only version owned privately, is betting $1.90 that it breaks the US$106.5 million record set by Pablo Picasso’s Nude, Green Leaves and Bust two years ago.
“Of the four versions of The Scream, the one that’s up for sale is the most colourful and the only one whose frame was hand-painted by Munch to include his poem detailing the work’s inspiration.

“Sotheby’s has listed The Scream at $80 million, the highest pre-sale value that the auctioneer has ever put on an artwork but even that figure looks somewhat conservative given the level of interest in the famous painting.”

So here’s the market.

The Scream sale price (including the buyer’s premium)

$5 Less than US$80m
$10 US$80m to US$89,999,999
$9 US$90m to US$99,999,999
$4 US$100m to US$106.5m
$1.90 More than USD 106.5m

I am sure my gambling anti-hero Steele Hill would have a wager after consultation with arty girlfriend Natalie and polymath-bookie mentor, the Gooroo.

As a punter and an art fancier, I think Tom and his crew have got the market way wrong.

Tom admits there are four paintings of The Scream though he fails to mention the brace of Munch lithographs. This contrasts with one Picasso Nude, Green Leaves and Bust.

The prose-poem embedded in the frame is Munch’s reflection on how he came to paint The Scream.

I am not sure how many millions it is worth.

I was walking along a path with two friends –

the sun was setting – suddenly the sky turned blood red –

I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence –

there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city –

my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety –

and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature.

That is my versification, BTW. I am not sure how Munch does it on the frame.

I reckon the best bet is the $5 shot, less than $80 million, though I would make sure the bookie wrote the ticket as fewer than $80 million.

Check out this blog shortly to see who is right.

If you wish to smile about the place of quirky Australia in the Universe buy my book 7 Shouts from Google eBooks or Amazon.

Bernie Dowling
Bent Banana Books


Will the Pilliga turn into the head of an octopus?

 Winangaya dhawun. Respect the land Kamillaroi elder Maureen Sulter Attached is the flyer and map of location for the culture ceremony to be held at the Pilliga Protection Camp this Saturday the 16th of November. For those who cannot attend on … Continue reading


Invitation to Pilliga Protection Camp Culture Week

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Here is the information regarding the Pilliga Protection Culture Week. Attached is the flyer and map of location for the culture ceremony to be held at the Pilliga Protection Camp this Saturday the 16th of November. For those who cannot … Continue reading


‘Shiraz’ – the making of the Taj Mahal

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Film Review: Shiraz – silent film made by Franz Osten and Himansu Rai in 1928  “Not hands but heart built this / Which stands like a dream” When we were kids our dad would quote Rudyard Kipling in the shower … Continue reading


The Door to the Sun

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Story and Drawings by Nyree Divitini This book was written by Nyree who was then aged six years. It is published here to encourage other young imaginations. Library of Congress Number: 064602289X Published by Learn Press L.Press P.O. Box 5093 … Continue reading


K’s Pics: ‘Araya’ & ‘Shiraz’ – free films at GOMA

These films look very interesting Araya GOMA 9–10 November 2013 Saturday 2pm & Sun at 11am ‘Araya has lost none of its ability to fascinate and move us with its hypnotic combination of beauty and hardship. It’s a gift … Continue reading


The Philosophical Baby

Today’s show (PShift 9 aug 2013 4zzz fm 102.1) is called ‘The Philosophical Baby’ and is dedicated to young children out there who are exploring the world and trying to find out how it works. For their carers this show … Continue reading


Ken Loach’s new film: The Spirit of ’45

  Also featuring a discussion on Socialist Alliance’s federal election campaign for 2013 arguing for public and community ownership and control of the mining, banking and energy sectors in order to build a socially just and sustainable Australia. What: Red … Continue reading


1000 Warrior March, Brisbane

We assembled at 12 noon, Saturday 9th Feb Musgrave Park at the tent embassy and lit the sacred fire. At 1pm about fifty (50) people marched to the indigenous all stars game at Lang park over the river. Before we … Continue reading


The 17 Group – Alienation

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The June meeting of the 17 Group will take place on Wednesday the 6th of June at 7 pm in unit 6 at number 20 Drury St, West End and will be addressed by the writer Lesley Synge, who will … Continue reading


Orango – Murdoch

In 2004, a substantial cache of Shostakovich autographs, sketches, and rejected drafts was discovered in a Moscow archive by the scholar Olga Digonskaya. While much of the new material helps to illuminate the compositional process behind well-known works, undoubtedly the … Continue reading


Vale Michael Callaghan (1952 – 2012)

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In Memorium: Michael Callaghan (1952 – 2012) It is with regret that we mourn the passing of the Australian political artist and poster designer, Michael Callaghan. He died on 19 May 2012 at age 59. As shocking as death always … Continue reading


Is it better to run or to stay?

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“I’m sure the murderer of Lorenzo Manfredini is one of the immigrants….All you have to do is take a walk in the afternoon in the gardens in Piazza Vittorio to see that the overwhelming majority of the people are foreigners; some come from Morocco, some from Romania, China, India, Poland, Senegal, Albania. Living with them is impossible. ” Continue reading


Phil Monsour – ‘Ghosts of Deir Yassin’: CD Launch April 21, 2012

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Hi We are all set to release the new 12 song CD, Ghosts of Deir Yassin in early 2012. The launch in Brisbane will be held at Souths Leagues Club on the 21st of April 7.30pm and the CD will … Continue reading


Day small boy pissed in Queen’s wake

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I ride your river under the bridge I take your boat out to the reach Cos I love that engine roar But I still don’t know what I’m here for. —The Go Betweens ‘Streets of Your Town’ A harried mum … Continue reading


‘Decisive Moments’— Henri Cartier-Bresson

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Henri Cartier-Bresson’s ‘Decisive Moments’ to Show at Queensland Art Gallery Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004), the influential French photographer who redefined both photojournalism and his craft as an art form, will be celebrated in a major exhibition at the Queensland Art Gallery … Continue reading