Artists Blog


Ray Johnstone

But things weren’t much different in Australia in the eighties when I was the advertising manager of the Myer department store chain. A window display with a replica of Michelangelo’s David caused a furore amongst Melbourne window shoppers until a discretely placed plastic fig leaf settled things down.

    At about the same time Melbourne radio went radioactive when it leaked out that the Art Gallery of Victoria was planning an exhibition of Robert Maplethorpe’s nudes. When a well known talk back radio presenter pressed his callers about their objections, he was amazed to find out that very few of them had ever seen any of Maplethrop’s photos. They were simply under the spell of the killjoys who had told them that the images were offensive.


Although working with a nude model while bringing up a young family in Australian suburbia, presented certain problems, I ploughed on, and produced quite a few male and female nude studies during the years we lived downunder.

    One of my exhibitions was called ‘Adam & Eve and Other Nudes.’ A review in the Melbourne Age included a photograph of one of my paintings — a nude in a landscape. Within a day or so, I received a letter with a cutting of the Age article enclosed. Some remarks with arrows had been added to the photograph. As they may hard to see in the picture, for anyone interested, here are the endorsements: ‘Has she just farted?’ and ‘Misplaced nipple,’ and ‘This tit is defying gravity.’

     I consoled myself with the thought that it’s probably better to be insulted than ignored.

Want more of this stuff? Please go to PART TWO.




Leave A Comment

Register with The Zambezi Project to join the elite who comment on our community.

If you already have a Sign in then click here to do just that and post a reply to this blog message.