Editorial: Outside

Glenn Barkley


The loneliness of the long distance artist.

He’s going the distance!

He’s going for speed!

He’s all alone in his time of need![1]

Everyone’s a curator now.

I remember watching a film with Jeff Goldblum in it where he said that Albert Einstein wore the same outfit everyday so he didn’t have to think about what to wear, as it was a waste of time.

I wish I were fitter, I wish I was thinner and better looking. I only wear the same clothes because they are comfortable. My cupboard is full of clothes about 1 size to small and I tell myself I will lose weight. And then I eat well and to reward myself I go to Messina and have some gelato but it’s so good and has nuts and fruit in it so is vaguely healthy. Even chocolate is made from a nut.

The most exercise I do is gardening which can sometimes be an extreme sport. I call filling the wheelbarrow with manure ‘A trip to pooptown’ to try and trick people into helping me. The past few weeks we have been pulling fire weed out by hand which is hard on the back. I wear gloves and crawl around on my hands and knees pulling it out and trying not to spread the seed. At the same time I make my hand into a little rake and rake up the horse poo, which I throw in to the wheelbarrow.

I think about things in the paddock. Life things like ‘what will I do for money now I don’t have a job?’, ‘how much does it cost to get a flock of goats and do they take a lot of looking after because I don’t want to be a goat farmer?’ and ‘what will we do with the fireweed now it is all in sealed plastic bags?’.

Turns out you can take the fireweed to the tip for free as long as it is in sealed bags.

Sometimes I think about the art that people make and how it makes them happy. Sometimes I think about the art that people make and how it makes them unhappy. Sometimes I think about the art that people make because they can’t help it and it makes them both unhappy and happy. I think about being a curator and I think about being an artist. I think about working well.

I am standing OUTSIDE in a paddock, I am standing in a garden, the sun is shining, the wind is blowing. The garden is full of birds. We are working hard.

I wake up early in the morning to read for an hour. Recently I have been getting up even earlier so I can garden then make some ceramics, which is my new hobby. I am making models of plants. It’s something I can do on the train or at work. Another curator told me of a technique where you work intensely for two hours then do something else – like reading or making plants out of clay -for 15 minutes. Curatorial bootcamp.

Eventually I will take the plants and turn it into a giant garden, which I can play with, and pretend I am rich and have a team of people working for me and I can tell them what to do.

[1] Brown, Greg. The Distance (1996). Nashville: Capricorn Records.

Glenn Barkley is a curator, artist, writer and gardener based in Sydney and Berry, NSW. He is Co-founder and Director of The Curators Department, Sydney...


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