BRUNY BOAT SHEDS: Back to the Sea
Music, building and design are part of the whole creative practice having studied architecture, worked in a practice and studied architecture [art historically], the built environment is ever present in my mind and visual field.
Most importantly: getting to the sea once again after having most of my life’s recreation in and around Jervis Bay, created continuity in the development of my arts’ practice. I had completed a Master’s degree in Creative Arts at the University of Wollongong in 1993/94. I was fortunate to have a serious Dutch painter [Jelle van den Berg] with a fabulous sense of humour as my painting supervisor. Whilst I had always maintained a drawing practice and had always directly observed my subject matter, the next step was to go back into the studio and create art work that was somewhere between nature and imagination or dream and reality.
In my reading, I looked at the history of Dutch Painting and was drawn to the still life paintings of the seventeenth century; though painted in the studio with an abstract approach to pictorial elements, the artists tweaked the colour, creating a mood or atmosphere that conjured up the sense of a landscape.
So, I painted many still lifes [Pretty Still], in my studio, giving them meaning through the use of symbolism and creating what I termed Magical Realism. I borrowed devices from many eras of still life painting from the past and the work took on a style of its own: somewhere between dream and reality. I painted slowly, adding layer upon layer, allowing the picture to speak to me to determine each step in the resolution of each composition..
This is the same technique and ritual that I used for the boat shed paintings of 2006 and 2010. Only this time, I could not bring my subject into the studio to study, nor could I sit for hours and hours on the beach observing the forms, light and shade under the capricious weather conditions.
I was pleased, at the time, not to take my art work further into the university as I didn’t wish to lose the intuitive and sensuous elements in the making of art. I could feel the over-conceptualisation of ideas and the danger of making formulaic art that could become pretentious gimmicks, without depth and the magic of the individual’s soul bubbling forth.
The sheds along Denne’s and Nebraska Beaches became like a sideshow alley. The circus of vertical stripes and each with its funny characteristics would laugh out at me as I walked numerous times past them in the days and the nights, often re familiarising after my late arrival on the last ferry.
Faded, peeling, weathered forms, squares, rectangles, triangles; a spot of blue red faded to pink, yellow, orange, beige, black, mission brown, olive green, silver wood and charcoal surrounded by a dry scrubby coastal woodland. The summers are circuses of children laughing all day, the deck chairs, fish-cleaning sinks, tin and wooden dinghies and much festivity. Then come the dark, dank months of winter. Lonely stretches of sand and all the doors of the sheds closed up against the wind and rain.
Two sheds have been pulled down since I started this work. Pimpinella, was a composition of wood and iron and old nails bursting with patina and stories. Death too, had a character of mauve iron walls and flaky, white timber doors, the first at the point, razed to the ground. Sadly, one by one they disappear, and the character and ambience of the northern most tip of Bruny Island changed forever. Owners are faced with the difficulty of the aging buildings becoming dangerous and no longer functional with bigger boats, leaks, wild seas and changing needs. If only the Local Council or State Government could step in to the rescue. They could be underpinned, have hidden reinforcing members inside and be lovingly restored or preserved with expert advice. The comments made by so many Tasmanian people at my exhibition, give witness to the social-cultural significance these humble buildings have to a multi-coloured history. So many people were deeply moved.
For me, there could be years of inspiration and artistic material to work with. I see inspiration everywhere. I need more time to experiment with all this lovely stuff. I sense that I am very fortunate to be able to create art and interweave the tales of human existence and music making into the joyous ritual that is my raison d’ être; can’t paint without explicitly suitable music in the background.
The titles of my pictures are taken from Tchaikovsky’s songs, some of which he also purloined from poetry of that time. The art work is not only a picture, but a cauldron of emotion and soul stirring and can have transcendental and magical power.
Jules McCue 
Bruny Boat Sheds: None but the lonely heart and other songs. [Sidespace Gallery. Salamanca, Hobart, Tasmania]
The drawings are in pen, ink, charcoal and lead.
The paintings are oil on board or canvas.
The titles are taken from Tchaikovsky’s None but the lonely heart and other songs arranged for violin and orchestra. . . .spiel
[Tchaikovsky’s songs are set to poetic texts about the problems of emotional entanglement. He took these verses and transformed them into miniature dramas.]
Forgive [Op.60, No.8], Pencil, charcoal and ink on paper. 2009
If only I had known [Op. 47, no.1 ], Oil on canvas. 2006 – 2008
Was I not a little blade of grass [Op.47, No.7], Oil on canvas. 2006 – 2008
Two radiant eyes [Op 16, No.5], Pencil, conté, charcoal and ink on paper. 2009
.Behind the window of the shadow [Op. 60, No. 10],l Oil on canvas. 2006 – 2008
.Amid the din of the ball [Op. 38, No. 3], Oil on plywood. 2009
The Canary [Op.25, No.4], Oil on canvas. 2006 – 2009
Why? [Op.6, No.5], Oil on canvas. 2006 – 2008
My spoilt darling [Op.27, No.6], Oil on canvas. 2006 – 2009
Tell me what in the shade of the branches [Op.57, No.1], Pencil, ink and charcoal on paper. 2009
Why did I dream of you? [Op. 28, No.3], Oil on canvas. 2010
Not a word, O my friend [Op.6, No.2.], Oil on canvas. 2006 – 2008
The fearful minute [Op.28, No.6]], Pencil, ink and charcoal on paper. 2009
I should like in a single word , Oil on canvas. 2006 – 2010
He loved me so much [Op.28, No.4], Oil on canvas. 2006 – 2008
None but the lonely heart [Op.6, No.6], Oil on canvas. 200 6- 2008
Frenzied Nights [Op. 60, No.6], Oil on canvas. 2006 – 2009
Reconciliation [Op.25, No.1], Oil on canvas. 2006 – 2010
Night [Op.60, No.9], Oil on Plywood. 2009
Death [Op. 57, No.5], Oil on plywood. 2009
Pimpinella [Op. 38, No.6], Oil on plywood. 2009
Elegy Oil on canvas. 2006 – 2010
Night Fishing on Bruny Island: Mild stars looked down. Oil on plywood. 20012 – 2013
Gypsy Song Oil on plywood. 2009 – 2012