Sunday, 13 October 2019

David Kendall 1940 - 2019

David Robert Kendall - Australian theatre and acting great

David Kendall passed away on Sunday, August 25th 2019. He was a pioneer in Australian Theatre, particularly in Melbourne at LaMama, and was instrumental in creating drama training for actors in Adelaide, South Australia from the late 80’s. This is how I met David, and he was my acting tutor at the Centre For The Performing Arts which then was a 2 year TAFE affair. I was in the first year intake of 1986.

David created a drama course in Adelaide that was not subject to the admission criteria of universities, and thus provided an alternative to those that may not have fared well in the university environment but needed more than what the many amateur schools were providing at the time. Ironically, David was the first real intellectual that I had ever met, and my own intellectual pursuits were ignited by him in those 2 mad, exciting and ultimately life changing years at the CPA.

David was extremely passionate about acting and left an impression on me about the craft that has remained. He encouraged all of us to expand our vocabulary and to write down words we didn’t know whenever we came across them and keep a kind of dictionary. I did this and believe that because I did so at that young age that my command of a decent vocabulary has never left me.

I learned a brilliant technique of acting from David called the Laban technique (also known as "Yat") which sparked my later interests in psychology, as well as further stimulating my interest in dance and physical expression. David was the consummate teacher of this brilliant method and whenever I recall the ferocity and precision with how he taught it I am reminded how hard it would have been not to be sold on it. I am also reminded to work harder with my own artistic pursuits and not surrender until, perhaps, I can master my craft in the way that he did his.

As a lecturer he was strict, and whilst he had a sense of humor there were certain things that irritated him no end. One of my fellow students had an unfortunate habit of yawning throughout class (especially in the later afternoon sessions) and this drove him crazy.

Larry the janitor came close to extinction with his repeated interruptions at 4pm (standard knock off time for campus staff but not students) just as a student was inevitably discovering an exquisite organic moment that David was so skillfully able to draw from many of us.

My acting skills were pretty raw then and I was distracted by everything else going on in my life, so was hardly an ideal student. He tolerated my new age shenanigans at the time but tried to keep my focus on acting, steering me toward the works of Cocteau, the Australian theatre greats, and Shakespeare (our course training began with Richard III).  He encouraged my interest in Antonin Artaud and the Theatre Of Cruelty but the genre was not to be a crucial part of the curriculum of a then burgeoning small city acting course.

I asked David at some stage (in our second year?) why he chose me to be one of 20 students out of hundreds that auditioned to be accepted into the course. He replied with an honesty characteristic of him, that he did not know what I would have done had he not.

Just prior to drama school I was at a stage in my young life where still traumatized by the death of a friend a few years earlier, I found myself pursuing a career in the record industry and was disillusioned about where I was headed. 

I had begun a band (The Gay Giraffes In Dubbo) and had been in a large amateur production of Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus (where tellingly I played the Bad Angel, whose final speech at the end of the play was my audition piece that secured my place at the CPA).

I felt that a regular job was just not for me, and in all honesty I cannot say how my life would have turned out had I not been selected for the CPA. It changed me and equipped me for what was ahead, very little of which (it turns out) would be as a professional actor; but so much I learned from David equipped me for so much else of what I encountered as my life unfolded.

Whilst my acting career was short lived (most memorably a controversial play about AIDS and playing a would be rapist on the then new Australia's Most Wanted series) the skills that I gained there have continued to assist me throughout my life in multiple ways. David as gatekeeper of admissions was a Guardian of the gate that -  had it not opened for me - I don't think I would be where I am now. For this I am eternally grateful.

The last time I saw David was in Adelaide sometime in the mid 90’s. I was working on my RPL submission so that my certification would be recognized as an Advanced Diploma in Theatre (Acting), which I eventually secured. Should I have decided to turn the qualification into a degree (something I had considered but have long since abandoned) this was a step towards doing so, and David again, encouraged me in this endeavor.

Farewell David. I have said prayers in the hope that your transition into the Duat is a good one, and for gates to open for you there. If these prayers are heard I can repay, perhaps, the favour you did me all those years ago!

Afterlogue - thoughts after David's Memorial Service Sunday October 13th 2019

I was sad reflecting on the loss of such a great man, even though it's been since August that he passed, which is when I wrote the above post.

I regretted today not pursuing a traditional acting career, if only by virtue of the fact that I was reminded that I had been taught by such a legend. But those that know me know that I am not a straight forwards creature, and that I will do, in the end, exactly what I am going to do.

I was surprised and delighted to find that 5 of the students of the first intake of the CPA Acting course that I was part of in 1986 and 1987 were at the memorial service. Sitting with them had a strange resonance as I recalled how we sat next to one another in those two years of learning how to become actors at the feet of DK.

Even more delightful was that Neegalah and Robert Wuldi (who met at the course and are now married) opened the proceedings. Robert  with a traditional Ngarrindjeri song and a very poignant, very on point tribute that Neegalah penned. Afterwards I conversed with her, who commented that many of the sentiments she conveyed in her tribute were reflected again and again by the subsequent speakers paying tribute at the memorial.

Six of the members of the very first intake (1986) who attended the memorial service; from left Heidi, Neegalah, Jason, me, Rory and Robert

It reinforced for me the earlier point that I made: I am also reminded to work harder with my own artistic pursuits and not surrender until, perhaps, I can master my craft in the way that David  did his. Again I am reminded how lucky I was to have had him as a teacher and mentor.

Melbourne and Australia has lost one of its most ferocious theatre pioneers. His impact can not be overstated.

To the West, David, to the West!

Tuesday, 11 June 2019


Acrylic on gesso panel
70cm x 100cm
June 2019

My latest work is a larger version of my recent Zemit, and titled Zemmit.

It gave me an opportunity to develop the ideas in Zemit further and to particularly focus on Set in better detail.

Zemmit detail: the god Set shows the hierophant the hieroglyphic text suspended in the air

I have rendered the sky and desert in ways that echo earlier works The Netjeru In New York City (2016) and Montu Mountain (2017).

All of the information about the hieroglyphs and the original genesis of the work can be found in a previous blog post on the original Zemit here.

Utterance 570 from the pyramid of King Meryenre, Dynasty 6, Old Kingdom 

Zemmit is 70cm x 100cm and painted in acrylics on a gesso panel.

Sunday, 24 March 2019


Acrylic on pine board
16" x 20"
March 2019

My latest painting features Utterance 570 from the Pyramid Texts of King Merynra suspended in a desert like landscape near a monument.

Set - Who is referred to in His name of Setesh in the text - is showing the newly arrived initiate the text. The initiate has arrived through the gateway that the monument is.

The desert landscape is a numinous place that is a location between our earthly realm and the Duat. The Zemit (also spelled Zemmit and perhaps Semyt) is a realm governed by Set.

I first came across Utterance 570 in The Ancient Egyptian Day Book by Tamara Siuda. It instantly seized me as being an exceptional and magickal verse.

My friend and fellow artist iconographer Ptahmassu Nofra-Uaa then located and rendered the phrase in the first person pronoun for me, and helped with much of the initial part of the process, including determining certain glyph anomalies in the original text as well as discussing with me the artistic rendering that I want I wanted to achieve with the work.

This painting is the first of many where Utterance 570 is featured.

The transliteration reads:

I have escaped my day of death 
Just as Setesh has escaped His day of death

I have escaped my half months of death
Just as Setesh has escaped His half months of death

I have escaped my months of death
Just as Setesh has escaped His months of death

I have escaped my year of death
Just as Setesh has escaped His year of death

Uttterance 570
Lines 1453a - 1453h

Pyramid Of King MeryenRa
Dynasty 6, Old Kingdom

My original render of U570

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Setken cartouche gift

My sister Ann Chris wanted my cartouche logo as a decorative element for her home.

I had made a previous version with off cuts from the stencils I had made by Eat Sleep Spray Repeat (you can see how I used these to promote my exhibition last year below) but she didn't like those colours.

I went back to ESSR and got a new stencil and proceeded to make it in the colours that she requested, using the Blackest Black Version 2.0 by Culture Hustle as the background.

Was happy with the way it turned out. The black really gave it a different dimension which is why I have included the video.

Happy New Year everyone!

The original version I have in my Shrine Room which I made earlier last year

Above and below are how I used the original stencils to promote NeoPharaonic outside the art gallery

Version for Ann Chris for Xmas

In situ in Ann Chris' lovely home

Sunday, 4 November 2018

New Paintings

I have completed some new paintings in the past few weeks.

City Of Grief
City Of Grief
Acrylic on gessoed wood panel frame
40cm x 50cm
October 2018

Magickal 142
Magickal 142
Acrylic, 23 carat gold leaf, genuine platinum on canvas
40" x 60"
October 2018

Enter this place through my painting
Magickal 142
Anpu and Set with moon and sun at the gate
Either side the stelae tell the story of my soul (parts) and destiny

Oh Beautiful Lord Bes
Great Dwarf, how jubilant you are in this place
And jubilant I am, in this place where Geb rests in the hedges
And Set soars in a tree
And where Divine Nut embraces with her four pillars
Even as the 4 bulls are the pillars of protection of this place
Dua Ka Desher
Dua Mer Wer
Dua Ba Akh
Dua Hap

As my ba is nourished by the Gracious Creator Lord Ptah
So does the Holy Serpent unite and untie all of my soul
So does Sekhmet heal my body
And so do Wepwaet, Auset and NebetHt prevail

As Heru hovers so too do I, outside of time to view this place
This Magickal 142,
This birthplace of awakening.

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

My interview on the Profane Egyptologist podcast

I am fortunate to have been included amongst the first guests to be featured on the newly launched Profane Egyptologist podcast.

The interview has been broadcast in 2 parts with Part 1 being a background to my artistic career, and Part 2 discussing the art in depth including specific paintings.

I love the insightful questions that Paul asked, and subsequently it has allowed me to deeply reflect on the genesis of my painting career and the elements that have brought it about. I really should have kept my answers briefer to allow him to ask more interesting stuff! I can see this podcast really taking off.

Please go to this page to see the show notes Paul has included that cover the topics we discuss. Hilariously he has put a link in there because of my mentioning that my first (and recent!) experience in snow included absolutely freezing balls as I had not brought appropriate clothing with me for a New York winter. (It was pointed out to me afterwards that the combination of underwear fabric and the jeans I was wearing created a sensation that made me feel like I had pissed myself all the time; wandering around the icebox that was New York at that time and being paranoid about having a wet patch on my crotch was not much fun I assure you).

Paul's book features one of my paintings on the cover and it is an excellent read. You can get it here.

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Dazzled By The Mirror Of Heaven

Dazzled By The Mirror Of Heaven
Acrylic on linen
48" x 36"
June 2018

This painting is the 6th in my The Netjeru In America series. The sketch for the painting is 3 years old, and was conceived in the United States during my sojourn there for the project much discussed in this blog of looking at the manifestation of Netjer and Kemeticism in that country today.

The painting has been a long time coming and is in my opinion one of the most powerful in the series to date. Conceived in the Boston Museum Of Fine Arts, problems relating to snow during my visit meant that I stayed at the venue longer than I had planned, and I came across a sculpture in the Art Of The Americas wing that inspired this work.

The actual sculpture of Angel Of The Resurrection in Pennsylvania Station by Walker Hancock
The sculpture is called Angel of the Resurrection and portrays Michael the Archangel lifting up a dead soldier out of the "flames of war."  It is a one third in scale model of the Pennsylvania Railroad World War II Memorial (pictured above) which is a monument on the main concourse of 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The work was designed and created by sculptor Walker Hancock (1901-1998). Hancock made wonderful sculptures of the male physique and angelic / deity figures that my painting tips a hat to.
The "model" of the actual Hancock piece which I saw in Boston MFA
Photo: Wikipedia
The actual sketch for Dazzled was made in the last leg of my trip in San Jose, where on an unseasonably warm day for that time of the year I sat by the poolside and created the sketch. It was on this leg of my visit that I went to Pantheacon and The Rosicrucian Museum. It was a magickal time. I had just met Kemetic iconographer Ptahmassu in West Wendover, and now got to meet Rev. Tamara Siuda (who did an excellent presentation at Pantheocon) and the late Richard Reidy (who also did a wonderful presentation along with HiC Luttmers). I met other members of the Kemetic Temple Of San Jose and San Francisco and participated in my first Kemetic ritual, honouring the Divine Lady Bast.

The hieroglyphs
I later commissioned Tamara to render the Pyramid text passage for me specifically for this work. She changed the context of the piece so “this Pepi” was removed and “I” was inserted.

 The text is my Mission Statement on that page of my website.

The doors of the basin of the starry sky are thrown open to me           
And I go through them.
My leopard skin is on me
And my sceptre is in my hand.

The Pyramid Texts (modified)
Pyramid of King Pepi I
Old Kingdom (6th Dynasty) circa 2332 – 2287 BC  

I have chosen this excerpt from the Pyramid texts as my artist statement because it speaks depths about what I do and am as an artist. It resonates with me in a way that I will attempt to explain. I first became aware of this passage in The Lion Path.

The doors of the basin of the starry sky are thrown open to me
My access to the other realms is not recent, but as I have grown to understand it, and especially as my craft as an artist unfolds, I am able to make better sense of it. My paintings reflect this process, and the process enhances the paintings.

The starry realms are the Duat but include other realms too. My exploration in Soul Anatomy suggests that the different elements of the soul that we possess may interact with these realms in ways particular to that body / element, and I suspect grant access to same. How sharply the senses of any particular body are honed governs the level of perception in and of those realms. The goddess Nut Herself is these realms.

And I go through them
Sometimes consciously, sometimes otherwise. My recollections of these realms vary from stark and actual to dreamlike and subtle. I think my attraction to and use of black lining in my art is my attempt to concretize and capture these feelings and notions.
My journeys usually occur in sleep, meditation, the float pod and when I have enhanced my olfactory sense with certain essential oils.

My leopard skin is on me
The leopard skin is the mantle of the shaman. I wonder if what we refer to as the Ancient Egyptian priesthood was actually a society or office of shamans? Shamanism  has been the subject of many books and films. The freedom of the wild that we equate shamanism with calls us in a way religion can’t.
The skin of the leopard is supposedly meant to represent the stars of said starry sky. Whether or not this is true, there is something about leopard print that enhances the shamanic process. Do you notice the abundance of leopard print wearing in our culture? Why does it “work” on some but not others? In ritual there is a difference noticeable when wearing and not wearing leopard print.

And my sceptre is in my hand
Another mantle of the shamanic / priest office, and another device that seems in and of itself to act as a key and opener into the dimensions beyond this one. The Ancients possessed a number of ritual staffs, and I assume that they all had a different function. The uas sceptre seems to be the most common one when viewing images of the Netjeru from the ancient past. The figure in my painting holds a uas sceptre.

 3 types of blue
I have used two types of cerulean blue in the work. One on the skin figure held by Set, and the other surrounding the glyphs that form part of the wall decoration. 
Various metallics form the top half of the painting whilst the rest has a deep rose madder emphasis. The 3 glyphs chosen for the wall: akh, ka and sekhem have esoteric significance.
The 3rd blue is a new Pthalo Light colour from Golden Paints which I have also been using on another soon to be completed work. This colour is the tattoos that adorn the body of the blue figure, and where a god or goddess is represented tattooed is “beloved of” that deity. The deities featured in the tattoos are Set, Heru, Mehen, Nehebukau, Anpu, Wepwawet, Auset, NebetHt, Wadjet and Nekhbet.

The magickal and mystical story that the painting tells I will leave for the beholder to contemplate.