Paintings of Steve’s Paintings
Settling in for a Friday night at the House of Refreshment, regulars Matlok Griffiths and Nephew Cam were simultaneously overcome with a need to express appreciation for its trappings and hospitality. Along with other selected artists, their creative interpretation of the unusual concoction of faux opulence and adornment, Cats memorabilia and old-timer Italian style, led to humorous new works.
Tucked in a corner of the Abbotsford Convent, amidst writers, artists and community organisations, Handsome Steve created a unique atmosphere for tenants and the fastidiously curious. Denizens were met with a famously sparse menu, but the abundant, ironically rich environment ignited inspiration.
Now, the sign swings ‘closed’ but the show goes on – offering not only insight to the imbibed artistic mind, but an occasion for celebration. Relive the refreshing antidote of the House of Refreshment with Paintings of Steve’s Paintings at St Heliers this July.
Rob McHaffie is shown at Darren Knight gallery and has a solo exhibition of his paintings and sculpture this September, Rob will be exhibiting aspects of his sculpture work as part of Paintings of Steve’s Paintings. Last year he completed an AsiaLink Arts Residency at Rimbun Dahan, Malaysia. Rhys Lee is showing a new suite of paintings at this years Melbourne art fair with Jan Murphy Gallery (Brisbane). Sal Cooper, animator and illustrator, and painter held a solo exhibition at St Heliers Street Gallery in early 2012, titled Breakfast with Heathens. Matlok Griffiths has a studio at the Abbotsford Convent, his current show, All these words keep getting in our way, is on display at Blockprojects in Richmond until 23 June. Pia Murphy is a ceramic sculptural artist who exhibited last month at Chapter House Lane, Melbourne. Spew Corp are the combined illustrative talents of Tom Claxton and Gabriel Woodmansey from Brisbane. Nephew Cam the mysterious newcomer is bringing inspiration directly from his ego as a House of Refreshment friday night regular.
So, the ever-curious Steve Miller has left the building, but it’s anyone’s guess as to where the one time publican, musician and café proprietor will resurface. In 2009, author Tony Wilson, who writes from the Convent made this odd premonitory analogy: “I flash through the sides of puddles, knowing that the only person who will see the wet streak up my back will be Handsome Steve who serves me pies and pots at his House of Refreshment. We talk about life, the universe and the Geelong Football Club, although after a year of writing my novel, it did occur to me that Handsome Steve might not exist – that he was the Convent equivalent of the bartender in The Shining.” (full text: http://www.tonywilson.com.au/writing/thebirds.php )
Fellow tenant and writer, Alex Landragin wrote of Steve’s recent departure on his Occasionalist blog: “It was Steve’s quixotic dream to be bartender to the artists, and it’s fitting that it should end in the autumnal season. Bars close; bands break up; lovers fall out of love: perhaps it’s in the nature of dreams that they should end and barely leave a trace. When, on May 12, the House of Refreshment closes its doors for the last time, the blip may not register on the city radar, but the city’s better angels will know that something more than a bar will have vanished. If the House of Refreshment was an exercise in futility, it was also a consolation to more than a few souls who gathered in this safe haven of impossible possibilities, to find an affable, angular sentinel keeping watch over their own brave, strange, impossible dreams.” (full text: http://occasionalism.blogspot.com.au/2012/04/commerce-on-crooks-cranks-and.html )
Paintings of Steve’s Paintings is a testament to the influence he had on a young generation of artists over the five years his House was in operation.
LocationSt Helier Street Store + Gallery
1 St HELIERS STREET, ABBOTSFORD, MELBOURNE, VICTORIA