Plzen – looking forward

Plzen, a city of around 200,000, dates back to the late 13th century, largest central square (namesti republicka) in Czech, noted for creating pilsener beer made by Pilsener Urquell (and multiple other brands including Gambrinus) plus Skoda steelworks and train, trolleybus, tram manufacture – massive area.  Culturally and artistically the city impresses, rich in both with many galleries, traditional restaurants, public art and typically bohemian structures being restored to their former glory.

Since their period of oppression (2nd WWar to 1989 when Russians left) photos and word-of-mouth indicates to me the cleanup and progress has been massive.  Even though no-one would have liked to be in the Czech’s shoes during this period, it does seem to have given them great drive to achieve, what could be seen as an advantage in Europe … they are not just working for money, but also to prove what Czech can achieve, how productive they can be and how strong a culture they have.

The photos are of some of the public art seen in Plzen.  The first of these shows a very grey and dark piece representing the oppression during the period mentioned.  The three gold plate pieces which follow are all in the main square and represent the camel, the greyhound and the angel ….. all in the Plzen coat of arms.  Comments for the rest are with the photo.

140514 1945 and 89 monuments1945 and 1989 monuments – strong statements of the greyness and oppression of that period.





Plzen – the camel, the saint & the dog. On all three pieces the dimpled affect gives life to the steel.

140511 Plzen parkart seat

Plzen parkart seat. Bright and colourful – has a wonderful affect on the ambience of the park.

140511 Plzen stack

Plzen stack. Using extinct industrial pieces as landmarks and establishing culture – it says this is what we were but “no longer”.

140514 Cerny Europa

140514 Cerny Europa. Like all his work this piece makes a strong statement – this time about all of Europe. Worth studying…. in Techmania.

140514 Techmania seats

140514 Techmania seats. Colourful and soothing – would look good in a large park.

140514 Tile mosaic

140514 Tile mosaic. These mosaics look like baths attached to the wall, are distinctive and creative.

140510 Plzen pub logo

140510 Plzen pub logo

140510 Plzen book

140510 Plzen book of letters. With so many languages spoken in this hub of Europe.

140510 Plzen worker

140510 Plzen worker. In the railway station. This bronze piece makes a strong statement about time and place.

140510 Plzen - in synagogue. The piece perhaps says how the cogs of the mind are affected in the times of persecution  ... the jewish sector has been  horridly dealt with several times in Plzen

140510 Plzen – in synagogue. The piece perhaps says how the cogs of the mind are affected in the times of persecution … the jewish sector has been horridly dealt with several times in Plzen

140510 Plzen synagogue2

140510 Plzen – in synagogue. Pushing up hill! a strong statement, bronze and limestone.


Regensberg, Germany – revisit

Regensburg, Germany.  The first stop during a 7 week visit to Europe, May, 2014.  It is early spring and the sun’s warmth is weaving its magic in the fields, in the town and in the people.

It is an old city where known civilisation dates back to 6000 BC.  A rich area to settle, at the headwaters of the Danube where the Regens joins the currents.  The public art is indicative of that age with displays that relate to the periods.  The forms now appear more emotive, but that is not peculiar to Regensburg, but the scale is grand.  St Peters is large and imposing, central to the city and dominating.  Internally I found it somewhat musky, gothic, pristene, evocative and hypocritical (but I find that of most churches – I actually find that coffee shops are more spiritual and healing).  The warrior on the horse is central, again indicative of that “life membership” status given by our forefathers to warriors.  Then the new artforms as the “bust” and the “cycle” are emotive, clearly describing a feeling or a circumstance.   Regensburg is rich, and why not? – it has water, beautiful rich soils, friendly people, a long history – so the food is wonderfully expressive of the region.  Restaurants of quality abound and the people are cheerful.

July 2016 ……. Margaret River Entry Statement win …. my concept has been chosen!

Following a rigorous procedure my ‘avatar (community support) tree’ concept for an interactive entry statement for the region was unanimously selected.  Whilst this is a concept, and funds have yet to be raised to create, it is a creation I would like to explain.

The structure brief is for it to be set amongst a parkland cleared area of marri and jarrah trees ranging between 16 and 20 metres tall.  For this to be a statement the scale of the main piece will be significant, possibly 24 metres in height.   The feature of the tree is the vine leaf at 6 metres,  recognising the significant contribution of the wine industry to the recent popularity of the region; the underside (8m x 10m) being a graphic fine art drawing in wire of the many attractions and natural features of the cape to cape area.

The design makes for a 2.4 metre high enlarged red bench under the leaf.  The sketch below hopefully shows the affect.

Due to cost, engineering constraints & wind factors the representation here of 3 large leaves in the heavens is unlikely to be adopted, more likely to be tendrils and shapely buds.  However the affect will be the same, representing the organic growth of the region, the importance of the wine industry, the graphic adventure under the lower leaf, the feeling of ‘announcement’ as you walk through the 4 metre door that ‘you have arrived in Margaret River’, the landscaped surface around the avatar being the natural colours of the region and of cultural importance to the original Australians, and the opportunity to tell friends and family where you are via all forms of media.

“Windows” at The Club

The illusion of open windows that is created by drawing the lines of the frames at a different angle on a flat piece of paper was the impetus to see what it would be like when transposed onto a piece of flat jarrah.  “Windows” was created and recently installed at the entrance to The Dunsborough & Districts Country Club, Gifford Rd, Dunsborough.  It measures 1800 mm x (1100 – 800) mm.  The five sports played at the Club are represented in the windows by copper inlay.

The light grey walls of the Club create a wonderful contrast to the rich jarrah colour.

Pop in and see it one day.20160607_172157

Sonthofen …a postcard village

This is a re-visit to a page I wrote some time ago, but not as a blog page.  It is autumn in Australia, and winter is when we often visit Europe …. so I have begun thinking of our impending journey and the wonderful experiences had in the past.  Sonthofen rates highly.

Sonthofen, Germany.  We leave the Czech Republic at 8.06, arrive Sonthofen 15.03 with 5 stops in between at Cheb, Nurnberg, Angsburg, Buchloe, and Kempten.  A scenic train trip with attractive towns and cities in between, but none that quite matched the beauty and friendliness of our destination with Emilly as our wonderful host.  Em met us at the station, tears streamed after long hugs; it was really nice to see her after some years ago when she stayed with us in Oz.

The weather forecast had been daunting, snow with showers and a top of 15 degrees; however the gods are with us again, sun shining, no wind and beautiful scenes of snow on the Alps.

Jack (Jergen), Emm’s man, met us (with car) as we walked to the unit and saved us dragging cases over the cobble walkway.

wier on mountain stream

wier on mountain stream

The town has a mixture of modern and old shops, general stores top rate, plus has a very good range of sports clothing and shoes.  It was terrific having Emm to point us in the right direction, and we bought great quality at a good price.

This stream was crystal clear and icy cold.  Emm took us upstream to a local alpine dairy.  We tasted all the cheeses they made, 9 I think, ranging from soft brie to mature hard, and bought some of every one they were so good.  Combined with the cows and young pigs in the paddock the raw fresh milk supplied with the coffee took us on a trip back to childhood.   This is public art at its best, natural and ever-changing, pleasant to the senses and organic.

fancy underwear from bavaria

fancy underwear from bavaria

However walking home through town we passed the lederhosen store and saw some  art that would look fairly amusing should it be public.

The town folk are keen on their traditional costumes.  Jack (Jergen), who is also a local, disagreed with this notion – not his cup of tea.  However the number of shops that sell the garments indicate high use.

family world

family world

The walking malls in a town of approximately 20,000 is rare and shows courage and foresite by the city elders.  It is a very pleasant space to be in.


The units in the left hand side of the picture are similar to the units that Emm and Jack live in.  They have a wonderful view of the Alps.

The view enticed us to hire mountain bikes from the Sonthofen cycle shop (very extensive).  On Saturday we headed for the mountains above the snow line, cracked a 20% incline (not without a bit of walking) and had a few beers in the mountain resort.   On the way we called into a museum/gathering of one persons collectables – amazing. Other works of art grace the streets (seen below).

Sonthofen is a wonderful town.  We hope to go back there soon.  Thankyou Emm and Jack.

water fountain

water fountain

the bavarian spirits

the bavarian spirits

bavarian festival devil

bavarian festival devil









Ohh! and I nearly forgot.  The markets on Saturday are a “not to miss” event.

Sculpture By The Bay 2016

The crowd of over 6000 people were in concert when they described this year’s exhibition as the best in the life of the event …. a stunning display of works, 33 in total. And to have 16 of the works sell is fantastic for the artists and the public.

This a selection of the works with my interpretation of their story.


This is my entry into SBB – Roll out the Barrel.  A song that I remember my father and many others bursting out with when he tried his hands on the piano, something he had a natural gift at.  The negative space signifies the age of the song, something in the past, …. tends to enable the viewer to imagine, dream, how was it all then.  Jarrah and copper blend well together.  I like to do the exaggerated muscle definition on figures.  Enjoyed doing this piece.



Only the Ocean (Dale Bentley – Charlie Chop). Inspired by Mick Fanning’s battle with the shark.  The scale is spot on, and the posture imposing and positive.  I love the position in the landscape and the way the light bounces through the torso.  The construction looks light but strong and balanced.  Excellent piece that should grace a point overlooking a surf break.


Two pieces … Dingo by the Bay and Free.Dingo is by Chris Latham is a very effective statement that dingos used to wander these parts of the south-west and now have been forced into the arid areas by urbanisation etc.  The dingo has arid colours on the inland side and ocean colours the other.  I can envisage it in a sculpture park.  Free (Christian Farrell) on the ocean is what people envisage happening on holidays in places as Dunsborough …. relaxing, blissful, getting away, lost.


Tidal Totems (Merle Davis) – a colourful, interactive (Jenny Clark and Chris Latham), engaging work made from abandoned synthetic fishing rope, nets, plastics and floats salvaged from the ocean.   Left in the ocean it tangles with the environment to cause death and disaster.


A Succulent Piece of Fish (Scott Michell) – a joyful play on words, and a magnificent garden piece.  I know it is now positioned in a front garden at Yallingup and will continue to grow in itself and on the owners.  A lovely ornament.


Alma (Deborah Campbell).  A skirt made from pressed tin is very effective to tell the story of pioneer women, and a fabulous way of recycling what was someones ceiling or wall.  From all directions this piece has shape and style.


Woven Reflections (Emma Headley).  Looking initially at this piece you don’t see that the main component is aluminium soft drink cans cut into strips.  The colours achieved and the reflection on the mirror, plus the square sections of aviary wire, has the mind conjuring up a range of images from freeways to high rise metropolis.  I’m a fan!


Return to Gaia (Daniel Fisher).  Evokes a lot of emotions …. Avatar, searching for a life, treading carefully, despair, reaching out.  I can imagine this was a very emotional piece to make.  The spoons are very effective as leaves.

Cocoon (Sue Smorthwaite), felted wool.  It would be fascinating to put this work into a public art environment to see how nature would interact with it  ….. and how it would interact with nature, would it keep it’s colour, shape?  A medium not often considered for public art, but perhaps we should!

Bush Buddies go to the Beach (Lily Mercer), stoneware ceramics.  This is Edwina the emu, a joyful interacting work that can go indoors or in the garden.  Once you meet Lily one realises where the character of her pieces come from, bubbly, vivacious, smiling, out there.

These are but a few of the works that were exhibited at this years Sculpture By The Bay, Dunsborough, Western Australia, Australia.  For all photos of the exhibits look at facebook Sculpture by the Bay.




Frackman The Movie – Must see!

Premiere in Western Australia of “Frackman The Movie” at Cape Mentelle, Margaret River, Western Australia

Last night I watched the movie “Frackman The Movie” (about Coal Seam Gas extraction) and was moved by the stupidity of mankind to undertake practices that put at grave risk two of our natural essential ingredients to healthy living – water and soil; let alone the other effects of peoples’ anxiety, resultant health issues, clean air and destroyed landscape, etc.

The message was not a surprise as I have seen documentation on the horrific outcomes of Coal Seam Gas extraction and Fracking in the USA.  As one of the wealthier countries on the planet, one would think our State governments could learn from the USA experience and put long term viability and health in front of short term political announcements and balance sheets.

I have never passed on a request to support a cause, however I am breaking this self rule and asking you to at least google “Frackman The Movie” and watch the brief trailer, decide on your position and possibly support the petition to Stop CSG mining and the method of Fracking.

Please see below email for a link to “Lockthegate”.

At Cape Mentelle they also showed a 5-10 min documentary of the land and unique waterways that are in the firing line of CSG in Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia.  At the time of production over 90% of The Northern Territory is earmarked for gas production using this method.  Arnhem Land is pristine untouched landscape & the risk of disaster is too great to have this proceed.

My research shows that governments and universities are doing studies to assess the impact of this form of mining on the planet and it’s inhabitants.  These sites mentioned below all indicate government and industry WILL ….. assess, monitor, etc.  That is credible, but wouldn’t it be better management of both to finish the research before action is allowed?  After all, we only have one planet and one life to live.   (government watchdog);  (out of date, but highlights the rush to production before adequate assessment of outcomes)

From: Lock the Gate Alliance [] Sent: Sunday, 29 March 2015 10:57 PM To: Greg Banfield Subject: Thank you for taking a stand

Greg — Thank you for taking the pledge to protect our land, water and future from inappropriate mining. Will you forward this email to your friends and family so that they have the opportunity to join you in taking our pledge? Your friends can sign on to the pledge here:

Sculpture By The Bay 2015 – messages

The sixth Sculpture By The Bay (SBB) beat all expectations, certainly in terms of quality, visitation and sales, but also the impact and depth of message. JSP-SBTB2015-96-4   As an example, Tony Davis exhibited 303 Poppies.  He was inspired by a horse he saw in a field of poppies in Western France.  It looked so much like photos he had seen of Australia’s Whalers.  The message ….. could this have been a descendant of the 120,000 Aussie horses sent overseas in the 1st World War, never to return?  It is a wonderful piece of work that reminds us of so many stories around that era.

To give a little background to SBB, Nita Pratt and The Dunsborough Progress Association initiated this event, to be held annually during the Labor Day long weekend (usually in March), to promote Public Art and encourage creativity within the local community.  This year there were 31 exhibitors of which more than 50% were from the Busselton shire.  This year over 2500 people voted in The People’s Choice award.  This possibly means that over 4000 people viewed the exhibition.  At least 18 of the works will installed in different places throughout the State.

These photos are a few of the 31.  Photographer for SBB, Jenny Stukely, has taken these photos.  The words around them are my interpretation.JSP-SBTB2015-96-2  Industrial Planet, by Justin Webb, is built from used (long ago) agricultural parts, combined into a ball that expresses the interconnectedness of all that in agriculture.  I can see parts in there that remind me of a past occupation, names and stamps on steel that are still current but are found on new technology, spanners that no longer exist and pieces that have become redundant.  If this was in my garden I could stand looking at it for hours seeing old stories.  in this photo Jenny has captured 3 people on SUPs doing yoga, a wonderful combination of old stories and tranquillity.

JSP-SBTB2015-96-5 DSC_0002 OverPowered, by mois, is all about evolution of the environment and the belief we need to maintain its health at least at the current level.  I found this timber slab from a tree that had fallen over in a storm.  It was an old tree, possibly about to stop living anyway, but it had produced flowers and seed the year before it had blown over.  Since the storm new trees had sprouted from the seed, then a tractor came in and cleared all of the area.  That piece of the environment had not been allowed to evolve.  So, this piece became my monument to that piece of the environment.  The ‘hands touching’ is the environment reaching out through the many irregular barriers (re the beaten copper hoops) to access and nurture the fruit that it has produced.  But the connection to the rulers to allow the continuity of the environment is withering (the top arm is becoming disconnected) – so how long will the cherries exist?  how long will the environment continue to give fruit and maintain a level of health if the rulers (government and religions) don’t have an ongoing unconditional unanimous commitment?

JSP-SBTB2015-96 Nuts about You, by Voytek Kozlowski, is a story about Dunsborough.  The red-tailed black cockatoo continually chatter and eat the honky nuts in the marri trees, drop them on houses with a clang-clang, on the roads and back into the forest.  They are a beautiful bird, noisy in the air and joyful in their conversation in the trees.   Good colours, style, lines and a solid resilient work, this piece has been awarded The Dianne Laurance Wine Award for best sculpture at the exhibition.

The final piece I am writing about is Whine & Dine, by James Horsely.JSP-SBTB2015-96-7 JSP-SBTB2015-96-9 Once again, great photos Jen!  James work is a joyful piece of the darker side of nature, the cut throat way that ocean life is … ‘winner take all’ … the Pelican that has the spoils of the ocean in the mouth, the seagulls waiting for the spoils, and the crab the ‘bottom feeder’.  Colourful and natural, it reminds me of the stories that Josh Whiteland from Koomal Dreaming tells about the bay, the pelicans, the old fish traps and how it all existed before colonial takeover.  The pelican’s pose is ‘classic pelican’, beak angled up like it’s trying to swallow the last morsel, but in a superior jocular way.  The seagull on the post has that stretched forward stance squeaking out ‘give me some’, and the other just ready to pounce.  This work has been acquired by The City of Busselton to be placed within the Dunsborough community for their enjoyment.

Hopefully I get to write more about the SBB 2015, it was a lot of fun.  Also heading to Sculpture By The Sea in the next few days with Jen (so hopefully can steal some more great photos) and write my impressions on that.  Till then, happy times, Greg

Sonthofen – love and witches

 15 – 18th May 2014 ….. To get there from our start point, Plzen, a scenic train trip through Cheb, Nurnberg, Buchloe and Kempten … attractive towns and cities, but none that quite matched the beauty and friendliness of our destination, Sonthofen, with Emilly as our wonderful host. We could sense as soon as we met –  Love is in the Air.DSCN2645  Em met us at the station, tears streamed after long hugs (this is Em with Jenny, not Jack); it was really nice to see her after some years ago when she stayed with us in Oz.  And yes – a man Jack (Yurgen) has entered her life.

Sonthofen is beautiful, at the foot of the Alps not far from Austria, Bavarian as Bavaria can be, icey streams, cobbled walkways through the town, scrumptious markets (this is Jack & I at the strawberry stall – you wouldn’t have guessed this would you?)DSCN2706and picturebook mountainous landscape.  Add this to a modern town with rich cultural and strong economic foundations, it was an unforgetable visit.

The town has great shopping for shoes and sports apparel.  We were a tad short of both so it was timely.  The guys at the bike shop were also most helpful, providing the best cycles we managed to get in 7 weeks of many hirings.

Amongst the many unique festivals one is the Egga-Play.  Culturally illustrating the importance of agriculture, it symbolizes the struggle of the people with the elements of nature. The actors all have large carved wooden masks and figures represent the following: farmer and his wife, son, daughter, servant, maid, horse, cow,  cat, dog, pig, rooster and billy goat. IMG_2322The game starts with a parade of the participants through the city to the market place before it ends before its hall.   Transformed into a farm with a field, the farmer, the farmer’s wife, servant and maid start tilling the field. But there comes the “witch” in between and mixes all up. It makes the cattle shy and spoil the food. Finally, a big witch hunt begins on until the witch is captured and imprisoned.

It is a thoughtful town.

fancy underwear from bavaria

fancy underwear from Bavaria

The public art illustrates its concern for the world, the strength of religion and also the artfulness in underwear!

family world

family world

The beauty though is massively enhanced by the backdrop of mountains and that clean, crisp, fresh air (Em and I on mountain bikes).DSCN2796

On the way we came upon the most amazing collection of sculptures and collectables.  It is on the way up the mountain from town, a collection of so much it is impossible to describe – he has created a world of how things were, might be, are.  A couple of photos does no justice, a book would do no justice!

Thanks Em.