John Ross McGlade. Art, Architecture, Poetry, Design

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First Anamorphic Insight





















ABOVE. WELDING WITH THE SUN. These images are taken from the incorrect viewing positions to produce a succinct anamorphic chair. The correct viewing position can be achieved during May, southern hemisphere, Victoria Australia between 11am and 1am.   





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With Parisian Cat. Jardin de Plantes. 1984. Photo. Jaques Serviere.


I have only recently considered myself a poet and this was prompted by a friend flicking through my notebooks, I have maintained since my late teens, to do with my main pursuit as a visual artist. I have worked many jobs through out my life from labourer, fibreglass laminator, welder, to university lecturer across the fields of fine art and design including ceramics, sculpture, drawing, life drawing, history and industrial design; I use a lot of photography in my work. I am also a belated Citroen and other cars mechanic and have an ongoing interest in philosophy. I have had my own 3D design business in Melbourne. As designer-maker where I primarily worked on commission from my design exhibitions in metal, timber, ceramics and glass, producing everything from furniture to complete shop fit-outs through to signage and architectural fittings. I worked for 5 years as an automotive clay sculptor at the Ford research and design centre and co-set up a course of the same at RMIT. After leaving Ford I was accepted into post-graduate studies at the Slade school of Art at London University but couldn’t afford to continue. I have been painting since 1980 from my first return to Australia while doing philosophy for a year at Melbourne University. I took a leaf from the book of one of my main influences, the artist Marcel Duchamp, by working in private and not exhibiting my fine art work which is primarily interested in processes and systems; some early work using electronics and lasers. In the late 1960’s I was also composing electronic music and plan to work, digitally, with these old tape recordings soon. In 2005 I received a Masters degree from RMIT titled “Making in Landscape, Transient phenomena and Creative Method” In 2015 I completed a PhD in Architecture from RMIT, titled “The Epiphenomenal in Architecture and a Creative Sequence” applying my fine art and poetic sensibilities to architecture.

I have won the prestigious Castlemaine cup for poetry ten times but have deferred competing for now. I have no memory of poems I have just written, or their titles. I have had numerous motorcycle and hang gliding accidents and I have to take medication to suppress my constant state of amusement of life and myself, I suspect, because of my Irish mother. I have also been involved with building custom motorcycles, perhaps riding with some people of ill repute. I am currently videoing most of my poetry as I write and recently published my first poetry book titled “Thoughts Have Wings” I have over 300 poems to date, for my next book of poetry called “Time Mirrors” . I am currently writing a book for architects based on the PhD. My maternal grandfather was feared by James Joyce, at Clongowes Wood College in Ireland; as alluded to in Joyce’s “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man”. The first reference to my grandfather, or his brother, was the line “watch out for McGlade!” and I am hoping to pick up some literary skills and a flat in Paris by epigenetic osmosis somehow, but nothing has happened yet. Growing up in country Victoria and spending my holidays with my grandmother on her dairy farm in Gippsland, I developed a strong love of the bush and landscape and “make do with what is at hand” attitude to solving problems. As you will see from my following thoughts I rely on landscape and the direct handling of materials to think. I initially bought land at Clunes in central Victoria, built a cottage on a high ridge in the bush and a large shed for a studio, only to have it burnt to the ground in 1984 when I was in 20 degrees below in Paris at the time. A few years later I brought a house and factory combination in an inner suburb of Melbourne from which I conducted a design and fabrication business of everything from furniture, lighting, shop fit-outs to architectural fittings, selling through exhibitions and on commission. Much later in life, as a single father of three children, I bought 60 acres of cactus and boulders with a shearing shed just beyond Maldon, again, in central Victoria. I lived in the shearing shed for about seven years, commuting to teaching and lecturing at RMIT in Melbourne. This property was central to the Masters and the PhD. I have a particular interest in helping people with their creativity and this was my greatest pleasure in lecturing and teaching. These following thoughts of mine have been beneficial to artistic friends who have flicked through their pages.I intend to maintain this blog (Horrible word) as a continuous work and as such I don’t expect interested people to read in one sitting but to randomly dip into as perhaps a need arises.


 During my PhD I started writing my “Extemporaneous and Proleptic* Thoughts” to leave my thoughts on art and attitudes, on a range of topics, to my partner Kerryn, family and friends. I added numbered thoughts on most days and had to hardbind the text at thought 2198 on page 375 and call it Volume 1. I then started Volume 2 on 23 March 2016 because volume 1 was getting unmanageable as a hard copy. These on-going, selected thoughts and associated images form the basis of this blog.

*Proleptic. From the Stoics? Spontaneous thought provoked by sense perception without reflection.

  1. I find the hardest thing in my artwork (and life) is authenticity, honesty to myself (which is a moving target) with every line drawn, with every photograph, every brush stroke, every thing I am drawn to make, every gesture, no matter how slight, every word written, for me, must be a truth at that time, that I take seriously, as acts, without my concerns for what others may think; otherwise they would be pretentions or compromises. I am easily deflected from this task by the barrage of baubles in our culture, responsibilities and weakness within myself. There is always the goal to find that place, that moment, as you write a word or make a mark that is free from the expectations of others and noise from within myself but closer to my real self at the time. I have to trick my consciousness by not trying to produce art while doing, what I later, call art. To achieve this integrity requires faith or ignorance or both, with perseverance in quiet places.
  1. Art doesn’t argue, it, points.
  1. Architecture points then has to argue the point.
  1. On the text of life, art is the highlighter


“Drawing as Action” “Object as Action” or “Engine” JMCG. 1978


            Bulb, chair, Flying cube. JMCG. 1973. Fitzroy


My place, beyond Maldon. Victoria. Australia.

  1. Art is more than consciousness can handle.
  1. My consciousness is always late, sometimes years.
  1. My (your) brain is smarter than I (you) think; so let it be smart!
  2. My subconscious thinking, my, intuition, is something I know is essential to creativity, but, I have also always worked on the assumption that I can change these preconscious intuitions by selective effort in any direction I decide, through a process of focus and reinforcement; this is obvious with repetitive physical actions which we often perform subconsciously, but i maintain it applies to concepts, attitudes and aesthetic preferences.

     12.Art takes things that can mean nothing, puts them together to make something            that means something, perhaps elusive.

  1. Meaning is more than words. In art it is having an experience of transformation within oneself not explicitly or exclusively translatable into the form of words, the human is more complicated than that. Also, to quote Wittgenstein, “How words are understood is not told by words alone.” (Zettel p144.) Or, from the American poet Wallace Stephens “The poem must resist the intelligence, almost successfully”.
  1. I am merely making enquiries.
  1. I don’t know where my enquiries are going, that’s the pleasure. If I think I do, I’m doing design, craft or engineering.
  1. Art is never finished, it is a series of beginnings and we are the same. I came to this realization in about 1973. (‘Reduced to thinking and doubt”) I then realized, that although I enjoyed many things, ultimately, if I was not to waste time, my interest was not to produce finished art works, but to be in an ongoing process between myself, and what I might find, keep, or make. Any pieces of work were perhaps kept puzzles that I could casually come across sometime later and perhaps a penny would drop. I would fit these insights into an on going jig-saw. Over the years I wander through this accumulation, returning to familiar things with a different mind, perhaps seeing the obvious, that I missed before or wasn’t ready for. This is a slow pleasure, and finding and building these connections and cross connections is what I enjoy. Triggers and interests can come from anywhere. As I do this I am continually, by intuition and conscious choice, constructing myself and leaving a trail of curiosities behind me. At different times, I have experimented, trying not to do this and be sensible or so called, responsible (?) I have found that the further I am removed from this activity the more unsettled and discontent I become. It doesn’t work! Since my late teens I have realized, that, no matter how small, I can’t go to bed without finding or doing something toward this task. It may only be a word overheard or a simple idea or a page from a book, but if it is intriguing me, that is enough, I sleep.
  1. I can use poetry to describe or speculate, but I prefer to use it to discover what my mind is thinking unannounced to me. Through actions I discover/create myself.
  1. I seem to start poetry with a phrase from a vague concept that is, then clarified in the writing. However, in my “work” I prefer to discover, what I will call “aesthetic concepts”, as I do the work or after it is completed (?) These, aesthetic concepts are a bundle of elements brought together by the artist. They may partly consist of expressions in words, diagrams or mathematics, but have images, sounds or a three dimensionality that give a wider experiential conceptual dimension to them. They may consist of a variety of media/forms/elements at once. Like music, which can have words and sound together, or film, which can have words, sound and images together forming a series of aesthetic, subconscious and conscious concepts throughout the film. I’m interested in aesthetic concepts that form single concept bundles but have many layers that interact and may not be discovered completely, thereby sustaining intrigue.
  1. Like art, a building is never finished.
  1. Like art, a building is partly mind.
  1. Art, does not exist exclusively in the mind, I suspect, it’s somewhere else as well.
  2. I am interested in the creativity that continues from the artwork once it is done. The creativity of looking or listening to a work, over time.
  1. Nature does not so much provide me with material (at hand) as it provides me with the motivation to reflect and do something.
  1. Everybody is not an artist although most people can copy. Every body is not a poet although they might feel what a poet feels. Everybody is also not a scientist, philosopher, plumber or mathematician, nor could/should they be; our humanity depends on difference for survival.
  2. Boredom and beauty are the perfect motivators.
  1. I am neither a scientist nor a mathematician. So, I’m not setting out to prove or disprove anything.
  1. I am not in advertising, so I’m not trying to persuade anyone, or use visual art to convey a particular message. Advertising does this so much better.

    33.  I’m interested in creating or finding things I don’t understand but not by indiscriminate, ad hoc means.

  1. In my work, I’m only interested in finding or creating something that sustains my interest for a long time.

    35. There is no such thing as passive watching or listening; it’s impossible. Even a               sponge sucks up water and distributes it within a particular geometry.

  1. Every time I make a mark I am changed. Every time I see someone else’s mark, I am changed again. Every time I select or put things together, I am changed. My experience is that these changes are largely subconscious and come out, or are used, when my mind decides to.
  1. I do a painting, make or arrange things, select or arrange words, or photograph something, only to find out. What I find out takes time and mostly I’m in the dark. I am not deciding to represent imagined or existing things nor express feelings.
  1. Creativity is easy, it’s just putting things together. Quality and relevance to ones self is the hard bit. The relevance to others is for them to decide.
  1. Too many artists are letting themselves into a dishonesty of the theme exhibition. The theme is put forward by, well meaning art bureaucrats who encourage artists to step aside from their usual focus and modulate the theme with the artists’ sensibility. When artists do this they are operating as designers. Artists may well produce something interesting, but so does a pig in a circus act, which is hardly being an authentic pig. Art should come from the genuine experience of the artist and the tendency towards themes encourages the view that artist have a unique views on everything rather than particular things. It further encourages intellectual and artistic dilettantism, particularly amongst the young.
  1. You get to quality by doing quantity; eventually you will produce less rubbish.
  1. By choice I can construct my intuition. I enjoy making choices of focus and iteration.
  1. Expression is unavoidable as soon as you do anything. I’m not interested at all in focusing on it as an importance, as a reason for doing.
  1. For a long time I regarded my real work (as distinct from design work or work done merely to survive) as not a product to sell for commercial gain, but rather as flotsam trailing behind a series of enquiries and part of a never-ending process. Some of the work was never seen as finished and I needed it for further reflection. (Now I see this as the need for my intellectual and aesthetic evolution) I could not see why, a commercial gallery would be interested. I just did not feel that the commercial world was anything to do with me, or my type of work, even if I could sell it. I was motivated easily into this attitude by being also not impressed with how the “Art World” behaved and the lack of freedom it put onto artists. If I could bring myself to produce a viable product by tweaking here and tweaking there (which, when broke, was tempting) although, I thought, I could produce work that would sell (by designing it), I saw this as not only dishonesty to myself but I couldn’t be bothered. To paraphrase Duchamp, “don’t earn money from your work.” Duchamp was my first realization that art could be intellectual. This suited me more than the idea that it was all about emotional expression or craft. The relationship and interplay between the, so, called, intellectual and the aesthetic, the conscious and the subconscious, the mind and the body, has interested me ever since.
  1. Duchamp had his tongue in his cheek, and, what happened? Serious people have copied him ever since.
  1. I’m always wary of the artist who talks too much about what their work is about or means. Unfortunately, our culture seems to encourage this. There are also those who, on the artists’ behalf, make it their business to do so beyond what is necessary. This reinforces the attitude that art works are more valid if they can be explained in words. As Wittgenstein said, “Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language” This also applies to art. You may think this is a contradiction for me in the context of this text, but in this text I talk very little about the meanings of my work, (which is ongoing puzzle to me) I mainly speak about my attitudes to art, my methods of creativity and other things.
  2. Abraham Lincoln said of another, “He can compress the most words into the smallest of ideas of any man I have ever met” I have noticed this a lot in the art speak of today. This is the opposite to poetry. Or conversely, “When ideas fail, words come in very handy” (Goethe)

    47. I’m flat out understanding my own work, let alone understanding the work of                others. If I get an insight into the work of others, that’s often a pleasurable                     bonus. That’s what I’m looking for when I look at art. However, “I” must make               an effort to change my perspective to see what is there. It is not the artworks responsibility to be understandable without effort on the viewers’ part.


From the soft light

Of my morning study,

I hear the silence

Of my daughter drawing.

As I am drawn back

From my thoughts,

I know the pleasure

She has found

In the quiet unity

Of paper, pen and mind.

No longer the excitement

Of the sun as a circle,

With radiating lines,

For the bliss of a child

Discovering her power

In abstract signs

Over a reality

As it is forming.

No longer the lost wandering

Of teenage years

With retail distractions,

Television taunts, timetables,

Avoiding P.E

And the long uniformity

Of dress codes.

There is now,

From another room,

The silence of acceptance

Of the validity

In the world of adults.

That the hand that reveals

It’s path across a surface

Is a window into the world

Of the intellect,


Balanced with the soul

By a line

She will draw

Through her life.

John. R. McGlade   30/9/2014.

NOTE: I am adding to these thoughts every day and so far I have over 2000, but, for now, I will stop here and add others, and perhaps videos, later.


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Three Spikes of No Particular Relevance. 2013 JRMCG.

JMCG. Oil on canvas.



The following video was initially to be played as a loop for an exhibition. It finishes on point 222 which is the final comment about Duchamp.


  1. A lot of technological or computer art is presented as new and innovative whereas it is not, save for the fact it is done with new means. I noticed this tendency in the late 1960’s and it is still happening today. Conceptually they are often not innovative and rely on quite conservative approaches to art. A lot of computer graphics is just rehashed surrealism or has the same aesthetic concept as the Victorian kaleidoscope. In these crafts I look for a new conceptual insights. I am often disappointed. I wouldn’t mind so much if I weren’t being told I am witnessing something new.
  1. Authenticity is all. When I listen to some music, look at some art or read or hear some words they have a dramatic effect in me. For example, original delta blues guitar and singing. This music may be very simple technically and in voice, almost akin to talking. This music however affects me deeply because, although it doesn’t challenge or impress me by complexity or craft excellence, nevertheless it has a powerful effect. It has this effect I suspect because the musician is authentically singing and playing music from genuine, heart felt experience, it is not contrived, for its effect on others, it is produced from a personal need for the artist. Ironically such unpretentious art stirs emotions of pleasure within others and myself because through the voice and the sound it connects us to feelings within the musician and ourselves. When we hear, see or read such things with the awareness that another human produces it genuinely, we enter into the artist’s feelings and thoughts. We enter into their humanity and others who, by their behavior, we feel that they feel the same. Thus, genuine art has the effect of raising our awareness of our own humanity and of our shared humanity.
  1. In fine art, don’t design your work for others, it defeats the purpose and, ironically, may make the work less relevant to others because it is less relevant to yourself. Also you may be making false assumptions about what others want, so, unless you are a designer, forget them.

940. Don’t worry about creativity, worry about authenticity.


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TWO CONES. Oils on canvas. JRMCG. 2014

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McGlade REPORTS PHD 2015, 3J

The following was inserted on 29/6/2016. (I will start recording here, the dates of updates)

  1. Beauty is more than visual, auditory or tactile, it is also conceptual, a complex interrelationship between what is seen, heard or felt and our thoughts ascribed to a particular experience. The aesthetic experience is not just of the stimulation of the senses, it is a resonance, a harmonizing between many factors coming together in the mind and body. Memory, associations, imagination, conscious and subconscious thoughts from within ourselves, that create a symphony of interactions with what is in the outside world at that time. Artists are involving themselves in these interactions when they create, not just arranging some decorative elements. Conversely, we may possibly experience these interactions, from our state of mind, when we observe read or listen to a work of art. These are the sort of experiences I like and pursue. 2/11/2013.
  2. The aesthetics of the conceptual. The beauty of ideas, from the explicit to the nebulous, there is a beauty experienced in the mind as it wanders through these.


Anamorphic frames/shadows. JRMCG.


Before Anamorphosis Blueprint. JRMCG.



Three Spikes of no Particular Relevance. JRMCG. 2014.



Boulders with Trusses. JRMCG. 2005.

Added 30/6/2016. from 137 to 144.

  1. Normally, in life we have to explain ourselves, so, under normal circumstances, I do enough of that, even to myself, as a cultural habit. But as such, this expectancy we place unconsciously on ourselves is often an impediment to greater deeds and belongs least of all in the creative arts, or any creative sphere. Explanations are too slow for the arts. However, this is not an excuse for deliberate obscurantism by those misguided into thinking the more obscure their work is, the more intellectual or artistic it is. This is a delusion for the insecure and the mad.
  1. As soon as I see someone doing what I have already thought of and perhaps, are about to do myself, I drop it like a hot potato.
  1. My most enjoyable subject at secondary tech was Solid Geometry. My most enjoyable place were the paddocks, the sheds and the house at the farm at Boolarra. In retrospect a lot of my work has been about combining these, geometry and landscape and my love of particular places.

The important book for me at that school was the government printer’s solid geometry book issued at the time. I was sad when I finished all the exercises in this book.

  1. I didn’t attend to exhibiting my work in the mainstream art world because I was too involved in the puzzles of the work itself, and I got into the habit of not worrying about if it was art or not. It did not occur to me that anyone would be interested. Besides, I did not see I had anything to sell, not a viable product, as I said to myself, at the time. My first foray into exhibiting what I regard as my real work was in 1968 at Shepparton Art Gallery where I exhibited my pendulum sound system as part of a student show, although I had done this piece outside of school.
  1. I am interested in the more challenging concepts, the more confounding, for my adventures. Concepts that exist in more than words or explicit language systems, just beyond grasping in these terms. These are concepts that are in the space between or on the boundary of, different ways of knowing. Concepts that exist across my whole brain functioning. Concepts that arise in any combination of words, diagrams, images, sounds, feelings, body etc. and any other forms we experience and construct the world. These are, poetic, conceptual hybrids, or conceptual mutations.
  1. Games are restricted to certain rules we have to conform to. This, on the whole, I find generally boring and too much an intrusion on my thinking, particularly games of a mental nature, like chess or cards and I don’t see any merit in quiz memory games at all?


  1. I am only interested in artists that don’t talk about the meaning in their work, and this is not a contradiction because I rarely talk about the meaning in my work, that is for me to wonder about.
  1. I have no idea what my work means, other than it is intriguing to me.


Pendulum and Video Eye.  1988. JRMCG.


Three Spikes of No Particular Relevance. JRMCG. Pastel and pencil.2005. Part of series.


  1. I like those objects that exist on the transition from event and solidity. Objects on this border, on this edge. Neither one nor the other, or both at the same time. When an object is in this position it can be a state of mind and a pleasure to my mind. MATTER AS ACTION, ACTION AS MATTER. (from 1970’s notes) Thus, I am only interested at the human, experiential. I also made objects consisting of fluorescent-coated vertical wire that vibrated under ultraviolet light to make, what appeared to be solid forms. I made a forest of these sprouting out of black vertical boxes that were not visible in the space. These intense green forms appeared to float in space. The coated wire spun at 1400 rpm just off center to the electric motor’s shaft therefore describing an apparent cylindrical solid object by this action.

For me, a painting is not a thing; it is a continuous process that keeps going for me after it is regarded by others, as finished. They are unaware that it has just begun. 22/6/2013

  1. At every turn in every place, if I am casually open to experience, I notice I often learn something interesting even from what I thought was banal.
  1. I’m more interested in philosophers, mathematician’s and scientist’s ideas than artists ideas about what their work means.
  1. “Fine art is that in which the hand, the head, and the heart of man go together” (John Ruskin). This is what I figured out early in life, using all my facilities in balance would be my aim. I enjoyed working with my hands but it was not enough to be a good technician, repeating the ways of others. I enjoyed problem solving also with my hands through the world of things. I enjoyed working my conscious brain but was aware that that could spin out of control into esoteric delusions, if not grounded. I enjoyed honing my skills in noticing intuition (heart) even though this is not encouraged in the culture of misplaced rationalism. (Derrida’s Logocentric thinking) Conscious reasoning needs to work with the other two in unison to reach it’s full potential and to enable us to function in a healthy way. The three, consciousness, the body in action and sub consciousness actually do not operate without each other as separate processes. Such division is a cultural habit that tends to let the conscious reasoning part of us; get the upper hand, more than it is supposed to.
  2. When I’m doing my real work I can get these aspects of hand, head and heart, to operate together, that is a skill developed over time. That’s why, for example when I do a painting I’m using all three by tuning myself as I do the work. How much to control by conscious thought is modulated by intuition and by responding to bodily feelings for gesture, may be allowed by reason, or again, decided by intuition, and so on. A never ending, pleasurable interplay often not allowed to surface in many of our activities, particularly in our specializations.
  1. On the text of life, Art is the highlighter and whiteout is ignorance and despair.
  1. We learnt by watching before we had words.
  1. I have yet to see a camera that can render some of the subtleties I see with my eyes.
  1. My ideas are not part of my pragmatic thinking, they arise because I have a mind, they are, conceptual epiphenomena and as such, may initially be seen as not relevant to anything. This is why they intrigue me. I am hooked on the pleasure of not knowing.
  1. The longer I do not know, the greater my pleasure.



I grip at the earth

For a while now,
the soil tight

In my hand.

This dirt from another time

When I played in the grasses

Down by the creek

That passes Boolarra,

Of tree ferns and moss

Green over black rocks

Where the speckled trout

Hid below,

And my brother Robert

As we called him then,

And I,

Caught them on safety pins

With just brown string

For the line.

In those days

It was full,

And you could hear it

Like the voices of

The old people.

As you came down

The track; but,

I would wager, not now.

The moist mud black dirt

Was putty

In my hands

And the beat

Of the milking machine,

In the evening,

Echoed down the valley

To Bailie’s farm and, I suspect, beyond.
As the last cows

Were turned out,

By uncle George,

With steam from nostrils

They sunk in the mud

And we turned for the hill

And home.

John Ross McGlade. 11:57pm. 7/6/2016.

  1. I have much intellectual empathy for the Surrealist’s notion if automatism, but the Surrealists threw out the baby with the bath water by neglecting the need for consciousness and the subconscious to work together and the one not having dominance over the other.
  1. There can be an over-correcting when the rational brain has too much to say to the intuitive brain and this kills creativity.The trick to have a balance between the two types of thinking.

2291.Forty five years ago, when I was still at art school, for the type of sculptural systems I was working on, I needed a technology that could overlay electronically generated 3D things, with real reality at the scale of reality, in real time. In frustration I used sound in space as a 3D evolving component instead; I used sound in space, as I called it then, as a self developing system, as a spatial event. (Written on Sunday. 1:12am. 10/7/2016)

  1. I am completely puzzled by time and I suspect my interest in fleeting events is something to do with that.
  1. If given enough time, we can see/make connections between everything.
  1. Art can be produced from any scenario except complacency.
  1. Doing art for me is like a wander across the land, you can take whatever path feels right with no pre-planned itinerary. This is the adventure.
  1. Craft has a preplanned itinerary.
  1. In the arena of public art institutions there is too much treating art as entertainment.
  1. I did not align myself with the conceptual art movement of the 1960’s and 70’s because I did not agree with their notion of concept.
  1. We are encouraged to consume, to the extent that often some of us think that to solve our feelings of perhaps a pointless existence or unhappiness we can consume even more. I have learnt that this is a fallacy for myself. When I feel out of sorts or not quite happy, I know that I could consume/buy something but the effect is transient, as I learnt in my early teens; it does not work for me in the long term. What I have found to work is not to consume but to do the opposite, that is, produce!!!. Producing something by exerting physical or mental effort is a sure fire way of raising or even eliminating feelings of deflated emotions. Sometimes I will notice I may also feel restless and short of removing myself from what might be a environment not conducive to me feeling good, I will allay the restlessness by creating something no matter how insignificant or having an insight that fires my imagination. I have lived long enough to recognize within myself feelings of disquiet or restlessness and what are the best strategies to employ for my own personality. The feeling I have of achievement when having written a small poem or dug a bloody good hole for a fence post is akin to the release felt when I successfully launch from a mountain in a hang glider; a feeling of elation, release from the earth or bad feelings and engendering exhilaration. It is a strategy of being more engaged with the material of the world and not retreating from it via avoidance, denial or chemicals. I don’t know why this works for me but perhaps it’s because of values instilled in me from my parents or it’s nature’s way of rewarding humans in the act of giving rather than always taking? (Consuming) Even the action of writing this note is one of giving a essentially common idea to the world that, at least, has made me feel better. When artists or thinkers create something, even in isolation, they are essentially giving to the world, giving to the people who may come across their works, and this lubricates the wheels of the world for better or worse, at least, against stagnation; and life abhors stagnation.
  1. In order to write the perfect poem or create a perfect artwork, I don’t necessarily need to know what I am about to do beforehand, to completely understand, and comprehend all aspects of what I am about to do. Also the poem or the painting is not caused by me knowing, or not knowing, the rules of poetry or painting.
  1. Firstly I overhear, read or have seen things and my mind takes them in, in a manner I am unaware of; then later I might write, paint or create from this well, drawing up many things together that were not together before; my poetry and art comes from the respect of not having complete dominion over my mind and faith in accepting what it comes up with.
  1. My poetry and art comes from the respect of not having complete dominion over my mind and faith in accepting what it comes up with.


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  1. In the 1980’s while beginning teaching I had to clarify and put into words many of my held positions on art and design so I could explain these to my students. This process was beneficial to myself and hopefully, as well, to the students.

One of the concepts I developed was the “Aesthetic Framework”. I maintained that all art and design is created in an aesthetic framework and if you ascertain the parameters of these you can also ascertain how well the work fits this framework or not. It was imperative that in assessing a work that you use the appropriate framework, that is, the right ruler to measure with. Either the proclaimed framework in the case of design, as design is an intention to do something, or, the emergent framework in the case of art. The latter for the type of art that is suggesting new frameworks, as in the case of avant-guarde art. I maintained that these frameworks consisted of more than words, perhaps often few words, but were, a more complicated form of knowing. I would use the student’s knowledge of music as an example of this more complicated form of knowing that they already possessed. For example, they could already distinguish between some styles of music without the words to explain the difference between them. They knew these differences, aesthetically, that is, by sensing and feeling patterns. I explained that they knew these differences by continuous exposure over time to various forms (patterns) of music and they had developed an intuitive, subconscious knowledge. This form of knowing, holds for other forms of art and the aesthetic component of design and is not in the realm of words.






  1. Ambiguity is art’s greatest strength because life is ambiguous, but should not to be confused with deliberately being obscure.


When you first met me

You said I talk like

I’m from Fish Creek

Near Foster

In the hills of Gippsland.

You said I say ken instead of can

And gorn instead of gone,

Like my mother says.

And that reminds me,

Well, I don’t like people

Who say mm-narrr

Instead of YEAH!

And nod their heads

Slowly and knowingly

As if they are cool

And understand you deeply

When they don’t.

However, I notice you have difficulty understanding

Broad accents on TV,

Like McTaggart or Irish workers

Being interviewed.

You go around the house saying

“Ay, this bin a mudder”

Or “I have no idea what that detective said”

Look!! I think this difficulty arises

Because you specialize in Australian speech

And you think too quickly,

Too quick off the mark linguistically.

I, genius I, on the other hand

Lets my mind relax and give it time
to work things out

And it usually comes to me

After a few seconds.

And “Win-e-gus-e-pob”


“When he goes to the pub.”

Say ye ken doe er.

Nee I’ve jest gorn for fesh and cheps

Und nay be beck till sex.

Mmm- narrr.

John Ross McGlade. 12:32am. Thursday. 24/11/2016.

BUKOWSKI AGAIN.     (To be read slowly as if under the weather)

I couldn’t write like Bukowski

He lives in a different world

And he smokes and drinks

And gets drunk with the cigarette

Still in his mouth.

Then he hangs around with prostitutes

Which I didn’t do in Paris,

But they looked pretty damn good to me.

Besides he is difficult with women

And treats them like they are garbage,

Whereas, I like them, or most of them

Because I had a good mother,

A strong mother and her mother

Was strong,

So you see, I can’t write like him

It would be dishonest of me,

Besides, I live in a different world’

Was raised in a different way,

And I think I am in a better country

Than him,

But he wrote a lot of stuff

And talks like his talking is an ongoing poem,

And I read him a lot,

So you see,

So I have got to give him that,

The crazy bastard.

John Ross McGlade. Sunday. 30/10/2016.

2017 ONWARD.

  1. Our world will end with the clash of certainties that breed intolerance and fear not from the humble doubts of our wise.
  2. Humans, in their quest for certainty, in a contrary world, construct stories of faith.
  3. Titles of artworks guide the mind along particular associations and metaphors that work in tandem with the experience of the work. If I change the title of the work or ascribe multiple titles to the same work it can result in a completely different experience of the work with every title.
  4. Our experience of Time is spatial and relies on memory and our experience of being; we remember where things where and experience where they are now through our being, our experience of existing.
  5. I realised early in my creative interests that if I deliberately attended to and repeated my exposure to particular concepts or visuals my mind would get used to these and go down its own paths and produce new things based on those chosen fixations. Repeat something often enough and the mind just works with it as a valid direction for thought and production. (To paraphrase Mussolini, say a lie often enough and it becomes the truth to the human mind)
  6. I have just discovered on this day, (5/3/2017) by reading Rosalind Krauss’s essay on Sculpture in the Expanded Field, that I was working in 1968 with mirrors in landscape and mirrored plastic film in the air (Flying mirror series) without realising Robert Smithson did his Mirror Displacements series the following year. Such a discovery tells me not only do I share similar ideas with acclaimed artists but also my timidity or disinterest, not displaying my work over the years, has not served me well. However Smithson’s mirror displacements were static placement of mirrors in the landscape, reflecting the surroundings whereas I contemplated doing this in 1968 but thought it too obvious and moved the camera or mirror in parallel passing and also documented my running past in a relativity exercise, within classical mechanics. I took one series of photos taken on the farm at Boolarra in the dry grass with a rectangular vertical mirror; some of these images were blurred of course, which appealed to me. Then I did a sequence of flying mirrors in the air over a ploughed paddock outside of Shepparton in Victoria and the same plastic mirrored film floating on water. I also photographed a rectangular upright mirror reflecting the trees on my land at Maldon for my research in my Masters by project in 2005 but still with no knowledge of Smithson’s work. This shows me there is a synchronicity of ideas, possibly subconsciously, across the world, which reinforces the view developed when I was about ten years old re inventions. I had no idea at the time what was doing these mirror concepts for, I was just working on intuition and would perhaps figure out that later. This is perhaps, as a student, I worked out it’s ok to have no idea what you are doing or where it will lead. By the way, in the late 1970’s I had my mirror shots in the paddock at Boolarra on the wall in my studio, which I then shared with another artist Fiona Orr who was into shaman like performance art with mud on her body with bones and primitive like artefacts. Years later I was visiting the National Gallery of Victoria when I saw a photo by Fiona that consisted of a round mirror in grass land. I was initially stunned by this blatant plagiarism but eventually gave Fiona the benefit of the doubt and put it down to subconscious plagiarism years later. Today I am wondering if I did the same unconscious plagiarism with Smithson’s mirrors? I suspect not because I was using my mirrors for different concepts than Smithson but in the case of Fiona her mirror photo in the gallery was totally out of character of her work then and since. (I will post these 1968 images when i can find them)I also reflect that if Fiona did this deliberately and consciously then it’s her creative loss not mine. I really don’t care if people copy my work and get public recognition because I do my work for myself, and not public recognition. I also reason that it is a weakness in the others creativity. I am on a totally different creative path of my own making and have the feeling I leave lots of ideas behind and will have many more, in fact, have perhaps too many ideas
  7. I suspect now, on this night, I may be a humanist existentialist, agnostic with a large dose of pantheism. However, I am still hanging on to doubt in all its glory.  1:17am. Tuesday. 11/4/2017.
  8. When craftspeople produces beyond their expectations, then they have perhaps produced art.
    Good art is always beyond your expectations.
  9. I don’t agree with Goethe, architecture is not frozen music, it is music that moves slowly in harmony with the tunes of nature.
  10. THE GALLERY. Pale men in black suitsWalk in to the gallery, They wander then standBefore a white paintingOf their hollow dreams.They talk and discussThe implicationsOf their livesSo far.They discuss Lincoln’s griefOn the death of his sonAnd the dichotomy of allThe other boys dyingIn that civil war.Across the streetA blue neon sign flashed outFISH & CHIPSBehind glass,And they noticedThe pastel purple flashingAcross the canvas.Because of the sign

    The ghost of dead fish swarmed

    Up the main street,

    But in the air

    Like black birds

    On a mission from god.
    The gallery floor was

    Polished concrete

    That reflected all images

    On show.


    The pale men in blacks suits

    Noticed one painting

    Had no reflection

    As they stood still.

    So they went back

    To their car

    And sat there

    Watching dead fish fly

    And their entire world

    Made sense once more.

    John Ross McGlade. 10:47pm. Tuesday 9/5/2017.



    I wondered homely as a clod

    That flirts on nigh over pails and pills,

    Ben all at once I saw a cloud,

    A post of sodden daffy frills.


    Combustions as the salt that mines

    And sprinkle on the milky way,

    That street in clever ending time,

    A pong the bargain of the hay;

    Ten thousand saw I at a glance

    Tossing bare Fred’s in frightful pants.


    The wives beside them pranced; but they

    Out did the farting wives in glee:

    A poet shot not bee but gay,

    In such a jocund catastrophe:

    I gazed –and guzzled – but little thought

    What wealth the snow to me had taught:


    For soft when in my grouch I lie

    In vacant or in expensive moo

    They squash upon that innards sky

    Bitch is the piss of rectitude:

    And then my fart with pleasure spills,

    And prances with the daffy frills.


    John Ross McGlade. 12:11pm. 30/5/2017


(Interviewer/editor. Suzanne Donisthorpe)





  1. Sometimes I wrestle with a concept for days but just can’t find the first words for a poem. An example is from the word “algorithm” and the idea that algorithms are not just benign mathematics, but come laden with cultural values. So I eventually wrote the following poem when I heard the words “We stand before closed doors” on the radio; you see, my subconscious is ever vigilant!



They are hidden

Behind closed doors

That we stand before

Believing we have the keys

Of a digital truth.

They are
In the walls

Of our assumptions.

They lurk in the dark

Determining what comes next

In our private world.

They are the ghosts of our reasoning

That haunts our decisions

From faceless programs

Yet stacked with values

Not benign,

Stacked with values unseen,

These algorithms
of our times,

These algorithms

That predispose our minds.


John Ross McGlade. 12:00am. 24/8/2017.


In a kind of forgetting,

A deliberate amnesia

That dismissed in our schools

And books of history

Indigenous achievements

Of farming and an organized culture.

A Terra Nullius

That denied the smoking gun

Of genocide,

That uprooted kangaroo grasses

For sheep and erosion.

They couldn’t believe

As we defecated in the rivers

Where they and we drank.

As we interlopers

Pull things apart

To understand

A new world

But destroy a people

With a sorry too late.


John Ross McGlade. 3:16pm. Tuesday 26/9/2017




24573.  Creativity is commonly seen as essential to art but, having worked and observed in a number of fields, I have always felt uneasy about this exclusivity. So, what is essential to art and art practice that distinguishes it from other creative activities?

I would argue that creativity is common to a lot of professions because creativity is just putting things together that were not together before (As in design, problem solving and fashion clothing) and although this may occur in the arts, it’s not its’ essential characteristic.

More importantly, in the arts, is the authenticity of the artist to connect to his or her state of feeling and intellect in the moment of creation, and to realise that, unpretentiously, in material or concepts, out in the world. (This is what real artists constantly try to achieve and despair when they lose it) The more genuine and honest and free is that creative expression, the more likely it is to connect and generate empathy within others to feel and think similar to the artist; that’s the difference between artistic creativity and general creativity; this is why good art strikes an emotional and intellectual chord with others and, in doing so, connects us to, and appreciate what the artist is highlighting of themselves in the world or an aspect of that world. Creativity in itself, is not exclusive to the arts, but conveying, through matter, language and performance, complex human emotions and the thinking, and the interaction between the two, IS!!!!  This is the very reason for people regarding the arts so highly as distinct from general creativity. Genuine artistic creativity connects people with the artist’s world view of feeling and intellect and people realise, if not hampered by prejudice,  that they perhaps have a common humanity, a new way of appreciating the world, with the artist and maybe others? (Like the group experience of music) Art reinforces our common humanity, our shared feelings and ideas of the pleasure or pain of being in the world. At the moment of artistic creation the artist is the most human of humans, integrating conscious and subconscious thoughts and feelings through bodily action, and others sense this and perhaps admire this in the artist as similar to their inner selves.

Artists who try to act as they think artists would act and what they think artists most commonly, do, are living a falsehood, a delusion, an inauthenticity and their work is less likely to strike a chord with others as they try to live by these ideas, however, more sophisticated and intelligent others will sense the sham of not coming from a real, unpretentious creator, but from a general creator who are doing what they “think” is art and how artists behave.

But in some very exceptional instances it is possible for design, craft and fashion to create items that do connect with the feelings and intellect of others (Particularly fashion, car design and graphics) and in these instances we are prompted to say that the item is an example of the fine art of the field! However, these deemed examples of “Fine art” usually come as a strong reflection of one designer’s influence and not from creative committees (Although this can happen, with creative committees, by accident, usually not by design)

It is also possible for an artist to start in a pretentious or sham way and eventually arrive at a genuine artistic position but the ego risk is high.


John Ross McGlade. 4:40pm. Saturday.  13/1/2018


John Ross McGlade 2018. Photo by Emmanuelle 


John Flaus reading my poetry at Words in Winter Festival August 2018