Brisbane DIY, Wondrous Fair, The Lamingtons, The Exploding Plastic Inevitable II in the 1980s and 1990s – A series of memory notes by musician Michael Bouwmann

[draft in progress]

 

Hello Paul

 

Not sure if you have seen this 1991 newspaper clipping from Time Off. A few clippings here for you. We did play at Racheal Bruhn’s That Space exhibition, which I might have forgotten but saw it on the group’s Facebook page.

 

Just having a look on my computer, there were things like a benefit for a magazine launch for a subcultural cafe we played at Easts, by the looks of the following flier, but I have no idea what that was about. And a Brisbane Community TV station, that later became Briz31 I suppose, played a Lamingtons video clip on an early broadcast – I think I have a newsletter about that.

 

By way of memory, I have been updating a bio, trying to think what might be of interest in your ARI Remix Project. I never went to Art College although almost everyone I played music with did. I did law part time from 1978 to 1984, the year my second daughter was born. Both girls went on to do honours degrees at Art Colleges, oddly enough, one in Hobart, one at the QCA. I quit the law some time ago after working for myself, then Caxton Legal Service and lastly Legal Aid, where I gravitated towards representing women in domestic violence scenarios in the Magistrates Courts. So I never was an artist, and had connections with the DIY artist-run initiative scene in the eighties and nineties, by way of being a musician. Most of the bio is irrelevant to you, but I leave it in by way of completeness.

 

Bands: Former member of following Brisbane Bands, variously on vocals/ alto saxophone/ ensoniq samplers/ fx knob twiddling: Seven Hills Art College band ‘The Lamingtons’, ‘Wondrous Fair’, ‘Frankly Zappa’ (Zappa tribute band), ‘Sons of Bee Gees’, ‘Muddy Nolan and the Twisted Hearts’, ‘The Nutty Squirrels’, ‘Lost in Space’, ‘The Safari Suits’ (live music to silent movies in Fortitude Valley), and once played as guest with ‘My Three Sons’ at a ZZZ joint effort Qld Uni, and the ‘Lemon Fabs’ at the old Hacienda Fortitude Valley, presently a member of ‘Sniffy’ (a recording only band of ex Kenmore High School musicians). Played a gig a year or two ago with ‘0+1’ in Hobart with Peter McPherson (ex ‘The Pitts’) and Irena Lukas (ex ‘Zero/Xero’) and recently doing solo synth/sampler performances at the Laura Street Festival, 2014 and 2015 and at Steven Bowerman’s Vision Gallery in Boundary Street, and as ‘Bouwhouse’ with Nigel Kimber in the Fortitude Valley and at the ‘Nine Lives’ artist co-operative exhibition at the Morningside School of Arts hall in 2016.

 

Presently recording in a synthesizer trio, under the name ‘Float Tank’ with Jandy Rainbow and Dorian Dowse.

 

Lyric credits include: ‘Biggest Tallest (Building in Tiny Town)’, ‘Floor of the Forest’, ‘Can You Afford Free Love?’, ‘Trouble’, ‘Bush Week’, ‘Dying Frame’, ‘South Pacific’, ‘(Fade) Golden Memories’, ‘Weird Little You’.

 

Recorded music includes: with Lemon Fabs as guest on their vinyl single ‘All we leave behind are the Memories’ (1987), c.d.’s as follows: in Sons of Bee Gees ‘Live’, in Wondrous Fair ‘Cosmological Clock’ (1994) and on ‘Spill compilation 1′ (1992 – cassette only),’Spill compilation 2’ (1993 – c.d.) and ‘Spill Compilation 3’ (1995-c.d.) (note: these Spill products are no longer available but free m.p.3’s are downloadable at www.spill-label.org/compilations.php), c.d.’s with Sniffy: ‘Sniffy 2000’, ‘Sniffy 2001’, ‘Sniffy 2002’, ‘Sniffy 2003’, ‘E-Z Sniffling’, ‘Fire Ants on the March’.

 

Music video clips include, in Wondrous Fair: ‘Floor of the Forest’, ‘Silence’, ‘Biggest Tallest’, ‘Steve Smith’, ‘Ant Walkover’, ‘Mars’, and in Sniffy: ‘South Pacific’, ‘Weird Little You’

 

Live soundtracks, in band ‘The Safari Suits’ (with Leo Power and Neil Neilson) for Brisbane Independent Filmmakers, to Salvador Dali and Louis Bunuel’s: Un Chien Andalou, Tarzan King of the Apes (we all bought Safari Suits for that), and the Buster Keaton movies: The Golf Nut, and The General.

 

Theatre and soundtracks for film: performed with community Street Arts (Thrills and Spills Circus) in 1984, and later: musician-in-residence for Queensland Performing Arts Trust’s 1994 Out of the Box Festival in Fractal Theatre’s Scratch and Scrap Opera… also wrote the music for Fractal’s 1994 production of Coriolanus, and did a performance piece with them at Livid Festival, La Boite Theatre’s 1997 productions of Mr Melancholy, and The Shoe Horn Sonata, and the 1998 production of X-Stacy, On Giant’s Shoulders production of Holy Days, and Wolf’s Lullaby, and Purple Pears Production’s Oleanna, and on some movie soundtracks, including (with the Lamingtons and actor Noni Hazelhurst) on Jackie McKimmie’s ‘Stations’ (1983), and Purple Pear’s ‘Shades of..’, and a children’s musical ‘Red Rock Rebel’ with Christine Smale for Nash Theatre 2005.

 

Did the sound for Stephen Henry’s short movie, ‘Nothing Much’ using music from our band ‘Sniffy’ in 2012.

 

More recently, did music/ musical direction/ sound design in Fractal Theatre for the ‘Anywhere Festival’ to the play, ‘My Love has a Black Speed Stripe’ starring Sandro Collarelli, performed in Brisbane, Parramatta and Ipswich in 2015.

 

Artist Run Initiatives:

 

performed in Seven Hills Art College band the ‘Lamingtons’ with lyricist/ drummer and Fine Arts lecturer Chris McKimmie from 1980, performing at various college events, including a performance by Jeanelle Hirst at the Seven Hills Campus. The Lamingtons had a shared rehearsal space at Redcomb House in the early eighties. Also in that decade, in band ‘Wondrous Fair’, playing political fundraisers and various art openings including ‘The Exploding Plastic Inevitable’ at the Smellies Building, the now heritage-listed warehouse at 32 Edward Street, the City. Performed an original musical set with artist Eugene Carchesio and others for a Women’s Legal Conference at Caxton Hall in that time period and with Jeanette Gilfedder for some art performances in and about the city centre.

 

Deborah Cavallaro, who played with her then partner and film student Stephen Mackerras in Wondrous Fair, went to Seven Hills Art College and probably has a lot of recollections as to who was doing what. We were neighbours in the grand old mansion in Hamilton, Lochiel, home to several artists and the perfume maker Jonathan Midgely – that was quite a nice scene. I am not sure I could provide much more than my recollections of playing vehemently non-commercial music with likeminded dilettantes as opposed to shedding light on the nature and composition of artist run initiatives.

 

I could, for example, provide digitised copies of the video clips of Wondrous Fair – I spent some time doing this from rather old video tapes – but they aren’t of anything A.R.I. related, if you know what I mean – and are more testament to the editing skills of Stephen Mackerras. The band members made their own costumes, and were involved in the process. I have a fair bit of poster art, especially the Lamingtons – large format screen prints knocked out at Seven Hills, but Wondrous Fair as well, including the poster for The Exploding Plastic Inevitable. That was an IMA show. There were photos of the Queensland Art Gallery exhibition of Political Posters in 1991, Wondrous Fair ‘Signs of the Times’. Not sure who curated that.

 

Not sure if you have seen that newspaper clipping from Time Off.

 

Is this relevant to your A.R.I. project, particularly, though? We did play at an exhibition Racheal Bruhn, which I might have forgotten but saw it on you Facebook page.

 

Just having a look on my computer, there were things like a benefit for a magazine launch for a subcultural cafe we played at Easts, by the looks of the following flier, but I have no idea what that was about. And a Brisbane Community TV station, that later became Briz31 I suppose, played a Lamingtons video clip on an early broadcast – I think I have a newsletter about that.

 

Here is the draft letter in addition to notes sketch above…

 

As a musician active in the artist-run scene during the 1980s and the 1990s I have significant archival material to add to the remix.org.au project about both the popular culture of the day, including video, audio recordings, photographs, posters, fliers and news clippings that can be digitally copied and or shared to accompany the interview and in turn, if needed to have these digital copies of materials accessioned to the State Library of Queensland – Queensland Memory – Archives.

 

Like Paul I too was directly involved with the social history surrounding many ARI projects during this era including venues, events, theatres, performances, concerts, gigs and share houses, as well as soundtracks for theatre and film. performed with community Street Arts (Thrills and Spills Circus) in 1984, doing performances for Warana, and later: musician-in-residence for Queensland Performing Arts Trust’s 1994 Out of the Box Festival in Fractal Theatre’s Scratch and Scrap Opera and other productions, a performance piece with them at Livid Festival, soundtracks for La Boite Theatre’s 1997 productions of Mr Melancholy, and The Shoe Horn Sonata, and the 1998 production of X-Stacy, and self-funded theatre company On Giant’s Shoulders productions of Holy Days, and Wolf’s Lullaby, Purple Pears Production’s Oleanna, and on some movie soundtracks, including (with the Lamingtons and actor Noni Hazelhurst) on Jackie McKimmie’s ‘Stations’ (1983).

 

I was involved in band made video clips with Brisbane bands, who performed many benefits for community groups, performance art performances at Seven Hills Art College, community groups like BAT and BIF, the IMA, fanzines, like Ratsak, and live to air recordings for community radio 4ZZZ of which I have kept magnetic tape recordings. Wondrous Fair performed in 1991 at the Queensland Art Gallery for an exhibition of Political Posters in 1991, ‘Signs of the Times’.

 

From my perspective of ARI’s at this time provided many artists like me with a place for performances and cross overs between original music, art and stagecraft, costume making and film and video, and collaborative projects outside of the established arts and culture sector. There were opportunities for self-run venues at a time before the cityscape was lost through demolition and urban renewal especially in the wake of Expo 88. Venues and practice rooms in the Roma Street precinct, like Redcomb House were affordable and frequented by artists and musicians, the first and last time the inner city was available to them before development drove them to the outer suburbs. To a lesser extent, the Fortitude Valley, however venues like the McWhirters Centre and the old Target Building were available in that time also, before development. There were lots of possibilities then, for art and music performance on a shoestring. Our video clips in Wondrous Fair documented some of this.

 

In the 1980s and 1990s – Performances at benefits to raise funds for self-published Zines like Ratsak, political green/left groups like the Rainbow Alliance and organizations allied with non-mainstream politicians Drew Hutton, I and fellow musicians had been involved in as unpaid musical support in return for which we were provided with an opportunity to showcase original music. Some of our music was political in nature. A song I wrote in Wondrous Fair, ‘Biggest Tallest’ was a response to Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s support for the building of the tallest building in the world. I attended a protest outside of the Bellevue Hotel when it was torn down, and performed music on a single ‘All we leave behind are the memories’ by the Lemon Fabs, a song about the notorious Dean Brothers and the demolition of Cloudland.

 

Significant Queensland artist-run documentation and ephemera from this 1980 – Now period has not been collected and published to date. I believe that that Paul’s three stage collaborative ARI REMIX digital project which began in earnest in May 2015 (for the Stage One 1980-1990 period) is commendable and is a useful way to change this, and not only is this an important history to document but I believe it has a practical value for upcoming and aspiring artists today and into the future.

 

I understand that  ARI REMIX is designed as an online project and what is commendable about this is that it will make these interviews and archives available to a wider audience online, from Queensland and elsewhere, as an indefinite resource.

 

I continue to work in the Brisbane alternative music and theatre scene and looking back, my involvement with ARIS has provided me with an invaluable creative experience that continues to serve me well in my professional work – the impact of ARI activity, the inspiring and interesting art created and people involved, continues to enthuse and inspire me about the possibilities of what art can offer society.

 

I hope the ARI REMIX project gets the support it needs.

Best,

 

Name MICHAEL BOUWMAN

 

RESUME:

 

Bands: Former member of following Brisbane Bands, variously on vocals/ alto saxophone/ ensoniq samplers/ fx knob twiddling: Seven Hills Art College band ‘The Lamingtons’, ‘Wondrous Fair’, ‘Frankly Zappa’ (Zappa tribute band), ‘Sons of Bee Gees’, ‘Muddy Nolan and the Twisted Hearts’, ‘The Nutty Squirrels’, ‘Lost in Space’, ‘The Safari Suits’ (live music to silent movies in Fortitude Valley), and once played as guest with ‘My Three Sons’ at a ZZZ joint effort Qld Uni, and the ‘Lemon Fabs’ at the old Hacienda Fortitude Valley, presently a member of ‘Sniffy’ (a recording only band of ex Kenmore High School musicians). Played a gig a year or two ago with ‘0+1’ in Hobart with Peter McPherson (ex ‘The Pitts’) and Irena Lukas (ex ‘Zero/Xero’) and recently doing solo synth/sampler performances at the Laura Street Festival, 2014 and 2015 and at Steven Bowerman’s Vision Gallery in Boundary Street, and as ‘Bouwhouse’ with Nigel Kimber in the Fortitude Valley and at the ‘Nine Lives’ artist co-operative exhibition at the Morningside School of Arts hall in 2016.

 

Presently recording in a synthesizer trio, under the name ‘Float Tank’ out of West End with Jandy Rainbow and Dorian Dowse.

 

Lyric credits include: ‘Biggest Tallest (Building in Tiny Town)’, ‘Floor of the Forest’, ‘Can You Afford Free Love?’, ‘Trouble’, ‘Bush Week’, ‘Dying Frame’, ‘South Pacific’, ‘(Fade) Golden Memories’, ‘Weird Little You’.
Recorded music includes: with Lemon Fabs as guest on their vinyl single ‘All we leave behind are the Memories’ (1987), c.d.’s as follows: in Sons of Bee Gees ‘Live’, in Wondrous Fair ‘Cosmological Clock’ (1994) and on ‘Spill compilation 1′ (1992 – cassette only),’Spill compilation 2’ (1993 – c.d.) and ‘Spill Compilation 3’ (1995-c.d.) (note: these Spill products are no longer available but free m.p.3’s are downloadable at www.spill-label.org/compilations.php), c.d.’s with Sniffy: ‘Sniffy 2000’, ‘Sniffy 2001’, ‘Sniffy 2002’, ‘Sniffy 2003’, ‘E-Z Sniffling’, ‘Fire Ants on the March’.

 

Music video clips include, in Wondrous Fair: ‘Floor of the Forest’, ‘Silence’, ‘Biggest Tallest’, ‘Steve Smith’, ‘Ant Walkover’, ‘Mars’, and in Sniffy: ‘South Pacific’, ‘Weird Little You’
Television:

 

Film clip by the Lamingtons was first aired on the B.A.T. Channel, the first excursion into community television in Brisbane

 

Live soundtracks, in band ‘The Safari Suits’ (with Leo Power and Neil Neilson) for Brisbane Independent Filmmakers, to Salvador Dali and Louis Bunuel’s: Un Chien Andalou, Tarzan King of the Apes (we all bought Safari Suits for that), and the Buster Keaton movies: The Golf Nut, and The General.

 

Theatre and soundtracks for film: performed with community Street Arts (Thrills and Spills Circus) in 1984, and later: musician-in-residence for Queensland Performing Arts Trust’s 1994 Out of the Box Festival in Fractal Theatre’s Scratch and Scrap Opera… also wrote the music for Fractal’s 1994 production of Coriolanus, and did a performance piece with them at Livid Festival, La Boite Theatre’s 1997 productions of Mr Melancholy, and The Shoe Horn Sonata, and the 1998 production of X-Stacy, On Giant’s Shoulders production of Holy Days, and Wolf’s Lullaby, and Purple Pears Production’s Oleanna, and on some movie soundtracks, including (with the Lamingtons and actor Noni Hazelhurst) on Jackie McKimmie’s ‘Stations’ (1983), and Purple Pear’s ‘Shades of..’, and a children’s musical ‘Red Rock Rebel’ with Christine Smale for Nash Theatre 2005. More recently, did music/ musical direction/ sound design in Fractal Theatre for the ‘Anywhere Festival’ to the play, ‘My Love has a Black Speed Stripe’ starring Sandro Collarelli, performed in Brisbane, Parramatta and Ipswich in 2015. Did the sound for Stephen Henry’s short movie, ‘Nothing Much’ using music from Brisbane band ‘Sniffy’ in 2012.

Examples of involvement with Artist Run Initiatives:

performed in Seven Hills Art College band the ‘Lamingtons’ with lyricist/ drummer and Fine Arts lecturer Chris McKimmie from 1980, performing at various college events, including a performance by Jeanelle Hirst at the Seven Hills Campus. The Lamingtons had a shared rehearsal space at Redcomb House with seminal Brisbane band Zero/Xero in the early eighties. Also in that decade, in band ‘Wondrous Fair’, playing political fundraisers and various art openings including ‘The Exploding Plastic Inevitable’ at the Smellies Building, the now heritage-listed warehouse at 32 Edward Street, the City. Performed an original musical set with artist Eugene Carchesio and others for a Women’s Legal Conference at Caxton Hall in that time period, and with Jeanette Gilfedder for art performances in and about the city centre.

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