The James Gleeson oral history collection
James Gleeson interviews Australia's major artists
Sub aqua 1976
woodcut, printed in blue ink, from one block
52.6 (h) x 75.0 (w) cm
28 May 1979 [unknown location]
David Aspden: Yes, yes. The woodcuts you have there, as you can see, are obviously related to that same experience in the Black light series.
James Gleeson: Yes.
David Aspden: Some of them have different titles. For instance, there’s a Dream time one there. I can’t remember the title of this one. Dark mirror and Sub aqua, I think it is. But they’re all related to that same experience, that Black light series.
James Gleeson: But the whole of this group, Tides, Blue—
David Aspden: That’s a black one. That’s a Black light, that one.
James Gleeson: Black light. But they all belong to the same series.
David Aspden: Yes. Yes.
James Gleeson: Good.
David Aspden: But the earliest part of that goes back two years before.
James Gleeson: I see. Now, David, the Free form red and those two are different again.
David Aspden: Yes. Round about that time—the date, I’m trying to pick up the date on this one. I don’t think we appear to have a date for this.
James Gleeson: Do these precede the ones that came out of your visit back to England?
David Aspden: No, they’re much later.
James Gleeson: They’re later.
David Aspden: Seventy-seven, ’76 ’77.
James Gleeson: I see. So we have two studies and a very large one for which we haven’t got a photograph, Free form red.
David Aspden: Yes.
James Gleeson: That’s 305 x 156 centimetres.
David Aspden: Well, I’d say that they’ve come after that Black light idea which came out in a graphic form which is more suitable than woodcuts and the paintings on paper, rather than canvases. But there are some. This time they were some of those canvases in the show at Realities. One I remember in particular was a canvas done on linen. I hadn’t used linen before. I’d worked on just raw linen, that brownish colour. I’d done it previous, I think, in one of the Brazil paintings. I’d left some area which was just a canvas. But only a couple of paintings at that time were done on linen. I started working on linen and working on raw linen, straight on the linen, and then one and two. One in particular called Ornithology was very graphic in style. It was a freer, larger painting–about nine by five, something like that–which was very similar in some ways to the Black light things but spread out, as you can see here.