anton veenstra

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Eye of the Beholder 2013




Send My Roots Rain, 2012




s12 cloth-as-mirror

Cloth as Mirror, 2006





s13 -veenstra-anton--bus

Self Portrait, M5 Bus, 2005





3 Self Portrait, 2010


s3 attendant3

Attendant 3, 1985



This photo was scanned by Remba Imaging.

Drowning, 1978


Mother & son





Scheyville, 2002




Birthday Cake, 2002





s14 selfie as school boy

Selfie as School Boy, 2007



s2 tipanni-islander

Tipanni Islander, 1986



This photo was scanned by Remba Imaging.

Small Town Boy, 1986




s11 baby-photo

Baby Photo, 2006




s10 scheyville-21

Scheyville, my older bro and myself, 2005


blond-boy-in-schoeser copy from bok pg

Blond Boy with Bike, 2004

s9 blond boy

Blond Boy with Bike, detail


















s4 billyidol

Billy Idol, 1983




s15 selfie as apollo

Selfie as Apollo, 2010




Vietnam War Conscientious Objector, 2010





Striding Apollo: selfie detail from larger work, 1990





Odalisk, 1998

 Artist’s Notes

November, 2014

● “Eye of the Beholder” has a selfie from my skype camera done in beads. So it’s beadwork, woven tapestry & assemblage of objects.

● “Send My Roots Rain”; the selfie is a modification of a passport photo, done in buttons. Was yr focus just on woven tapestry, in which case this one’s disqualified. I’ve used the multiple border design of the Asian Thanka image; my verbal inspiration was GM Hopkins’ poem, ‘Just Indeed thou art’. But I realised that the selfie is designed by social media technology as being an image that we produce but also develop…. The GM Hopkins poem is about inspiration, how part of the creative process is struggle n frustration, at which stage everything others do seems easier. Also it’s a metaphor about dry weather; after I completed the work it rained for weeks. Go figure.
‘Thou art indeed just, Lord, if I contend’
                                        Gerard Manley Hopkins
Justus quidem tu es, Domine, si disputem tecum; verumtamen
justa loquar ad te: Quare via impiorum prosperatur? &c.
Thou art indeed just, Lord, if I contend
With thee; but, sir, so what I plead is just.
Why do sinners’ ways prosper? and why must
Disappointment all I endeavour end?
Wert thou my enemy, O thou my friend,
How wouldst thou worse, I wonder, than thou dost
Defeat, thwart me? Oh, the sots and thralls of lust
Do in spare hours more thrive than I that spend,
Sir, life upon thy cause. See, banks and brakes
Now, leavèd how thick! lacèd they are again
With fretty chervil, look, and fresh wind shakes
Them; birds build – but not I build; no, but strain,
Time’s eunuch, and not breed one work that wakes.
Mine, O thou lord of life, send my roots rain.
Source: Gerard Manley Hopkins: Poems and Prose (Penguin Classics, 1985)
● “Cloth as Mirror” 2006, 30 cm diameter; looking into a mirror, depicting the patterns of light.

● “Self Portrait, M5 Bus” 2005, 30 cm H X W. I was teaching at the Textile workshop, School of Arts, Australian National University, Canberra, and commuting there weekly by bus.

● “3 Self Portrait” 2010, 22 cm H X 16 cm W. A selfie featuring my tapestry monogram, A inverted and V combined. Also I was toying with the discipline of jade green contrasting with brown/purple.

● “Attendant 3″ 1985, 30 cm H X W. I was strongly influenced by the Nabis, the post-impressionist French avant-guarde painters for whom colour was the strongest element. Among the storms of coloured shapes my meditation was self referential.

● “Drowning” 1978, 80 cm H X 40 cm W. One of my earliest works, based on a photo booth passport shot; the freaky, jaggedy shapes were all about prana/chi, the energy of things, & weaving an image where shapes interacted, independent but also interdependent.

● “Mother & Son” 2002, 120 cm H X 60 cm W. In 2001 I enrolled at COFA the College of Fine Arts in a Master’s of Design (Honours) degree by research; it was a period of study devoted to a self-chosen topic, supported by work created out of the research. In my case, I was supervised by the extraordinary Liz Williamson, designated a national treasure for her work in textiles. She encouraged me to examine my family heritage whereby my mother, born in Doklezovje Slovenia, was shipped to Australia post WW2 on an International Refugee Organization ship. I was born in Cowra migrant camp; that’s me on my mother’s lap.

● “Scheyville” 2002, 50 cm H X 20 cm W. At age 2 my family moved north to the outskirts of Sydney, to Scheyville camp. I’m wearing thick European trousers.

● “Birthday Cake” 2002, 40 cm H X 30 cm W.

● “Selfie as School Boy” 2007, 30 cm H X W. Part of an assemblage about child sexual abuse, called “Authorised to Instruct”.

● “Tipanni Islander” 1986, 100cm H X 60 cm W. Tipanni is a local variation on the word frangipanni. A friend in our group was from the Cook Islands. So much of his culture made use of this flower, in bowls scenting rooms, in garlands. He told us various vague things about the god of the islands, a beneficent ruling deity; I thought the garland of flowers suggested the shorelines, while beyond, sea & sky blurred. The indefinitely defined facial features meant I fell back on aspects of self portraiture.

● “Small Town Boy” 1985, 100 cm H X 60 cm W. Based on the Bronski Beat song; this work won a local acquisitive award. The bottom left face is Jimmy Sommerville, the singer, but manages to be a self portrait; I had, after all, come from a small town in central Qld; the diver refers to my Cook Island friend, and the curving vertical lines refer to a painting by central Australian indigenous elder & painter Clifford Possum. -An aspect of the way both artists & viewers relate to portraiture can be illuminated by an incident where this work was exhibited and two young Eastern European women studied the work; one recoiled in discomfort & said the face repelled her, it reminded her of Lenin. What could I do?

● “Baby Photo” 2006, 30 cm H X W, woven tapestry.

● “Scheyville, my older bro & myself” 2005, 70 cm H X 40 cm W.

●“Blond Boy with Bike” 2004, 150 cm H X 75 cm W. Perhaps to emphasise the difference between being interned behind barbed wire as a reffo family, and being free at last, Aussie citizens, I chose a box brownie photo of myself, in the first house of our own, I was dressed in a Popeye sailor suit; everything was new & deserved a different medium, in this case button assemblage.

Mary Schoeser, Textile: Arts of Mankind, #173. Anton Veenstra, “Blond Boy with Bike”, 2005 –

“This large panel, 150 cms (59 in.) high, is an experiment by an experienced tapestry weaver, using vintage buttons stitched with upholsterer’s thread onto stretched canvas. The image is based on a photograph taken by the artist’s parents when they had finally been released from a migrant camp at Cowra, Australia, where Veenstra was born. As the artist says, “the bicycle represents the potential freedom and mobility of citizen status after the restriction of internment”.

● “Billy Idol” 1983, 40 cm H X 20 cm W. Again strongly colour based and really, you weave slowly, and elements of the self portrait cannot fail to intrude.

● “Selfie as Apollo” 2010, 20 cm H X 16 cm W. Based on an amazing bronze sculpture of Apollo found in Pireaus harbour, which I saw in Athens in 1979. The eyes resemble my own, self portraiture again has crept in.

● “Selfie as Vietnam War Conscientious Objector” 2010, 40 cm H X W. I was called up in 1969, but managed to avoid going to war; the pursed lips suggest the conflict internalised by young gay men of that time about appearing effeminate.

● “Striding Apollo”, selfie detail from larger work, 1990, detail = 15 cm H X W. “Striding Apollo” was not a successful tapestry as a whole, in my opinion.

● “Odalisk” 1998, 100 cm H X 60 cm W; also a mirror of self reflection. A jeweller looked at this work & remarked to the gallery curator that he thought the work was a competent balance of the right colours.


1978  Drowning
1983  Billy Idol
1985  Attendant 3
1985  Small Town Boy
1986  Tipanni Islander
1990  Selfie as Apollo
1990  Striding Apollo, detail
1998  Odalisk
2002  Mother & Son
2002  Scheyville
2002  Birthday Cake
2004  Blond Boy with Bike
2005  Scheyville, my older bro & myself
2005  Self Portrait, M5 Bus
2006  Cloth as Mirror
2006  Baby Photo
2007  Selfie as School Boy
2010  Selfie as Vietnam War Conscientious Objector
2010  3 Self-portrait
2012  Send My Roots Rain
2013  Eye of the Beholder


Anton mailed the images for his artist’s gallery in chronological order, thinking this selection of works, viewed as they were made over time, would show the evolution of his ideas, influences and skills—a rational expectation, until the images hit my inbox and downloaded higgeldy-piggeldy into my computer. In the process of sorting out and matching the images with Anton’s notes, I found that I was assembling my own personal and meaningful impression of Anton’s work as autobiography—assembled like his buttons, not in a line, but in overlaid clusters of periods of his life, that as an age-mate, I recognize and in some ways share. I have never met Anton in person, yet the impressions I formed from his notes and his art feel genuine: he has given me his permission to diverge from the linear path in this presentation.—MLS

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