1976

BOREDOM
Installation & Performance: Preston Institute of Technology Vic.

This work consisted of 5 tonnes of old newspapers being loaded into a small room at P.I.T, this virtually filled all the available space in the room.  Each day for 5 days the artist would arrive dressed as an office clerk, carrying a briefcase and a newspaper and work from 9am - 5pm sorting papers, sometimes stopping to read sections out load.  During the course of the 5 days the artist tunneled elaborate catacomb structures through the newspapers.

(No Documentation available)


1977

ART WORKS
Warehouse Galleries, South Melbourne
Seeing Through Art

With the exception of the large painting which took up the entire back wall of Warehouse gallery, approximately 10 m X 3.5m, the remaining 30 works in this exhibition were the same scale 30cm x 90 cms. 

'Art Seeing', pictured left, was no exception. 'Art Seeing' consisted of 15 reproductions of famous paintings of the nude, from Hans Memling to Egon Schiele.  Each image has been stenciled with the word ART and framed under a smokey translucent glass which had been stenciled with the word SEEING.  These 15 images were then re-framed to make one work which fitted into the standard image size for the exhibition.

In many respects these works owed a debt to John Cage and his notion that the objective of music was to bring its audience into the act of listening; the objective of this work was to bring the viewer into the act of seeing.  I visted Cage in New York later that year where we spent an afternoon discussing art and music & Zen.


 

'The works are handsome but Willis is more apparent as an ideas person than an artist-craftsman. He does not offer the usual clues to an integrated style. Stylistically he owes a debt to Jasper Johns & Robert Raushenberg, but the ideas which matter most are his own.'
Mary Eagle - The Age 1978 

Cultural Experience Pretty Enlightening 

Where this work differs the previous work 'Art Seeing' is that the bottom right hand image where a gridded image of an Inuit mask has been rendered as a realist coloured pencil drawing.  In many respects this work references the influence of Jenny Watson's photo-realist drawings of Nick Cave & 'The Boys Next Door', exhibited at Powell Street Gallery the previous year.

However 'Cultural - Experience - Pretty - Enlightening' signifies a post-modern cultural dilemma and offers a meditative act of realist rendering in respect of a lack of authentic solution to the questions it raises regarding cultural authenicity.


RUB

Is a work which seeks to continue the interrogation of the problem first recognized by Robert Rauchenberg in 1953 when he erased the drawing by Willem De Kooning.  In this case, the drawing erased was my own - the rubbings from the framed erased life drawing were kept in the stoppered perspex tube embedded into the glass and framed.


ART - WORK

Other works from this exhibition gestured toward an economic crisis of production within a globalized world.  In 1977 I purchased a small oil painting from a market. It featured a Phillipino fishing boat painted in thick oils, impasto alla Van Gogh, and with its guilded wooden frame I paid $15 Aust. for it. I then lovingly re-rendered this painting and its frame in B/W pencil and re-framed both the small painting and its frame along with its reproduction within my own minimalist framing system.

 

Commercial Potential

'Commercial Potential', continued this ironic practice of art work. I had acquired four postcards from a market and reproduced them on B/W pencil at the same scale beside the postcards.  The pencil was included within the frame, under glass.  These drawings were then and assessed in red biro, and the red pen was also included in the framing system, this time over the top of the frame.


  

D.I.Y. Portraits - Jenny Kemp - Rob Meldrum - Simon Hopkinson

Other works in this exhibition included three 'D.I.Y.' portaits of friends at the time; The writer/director Jenny Kemp, the actor Rob Meldrum, and the playwright/conceptual artist, Simon Hopkinson.  'Each of these portraits were draughted up and detailed as to how they were to be painted using a broad spectrum of reproductions of appropriate artworks and notations, detailing the exact pallete and techniques to be used in the rendering of the portrait, although the portraits themselves were never painted.  This work acknowledged a debt to Andy Warhol's 1963 series 'Paint by Numbers'.  I met Andy Warhol later that year when I moved to New York.


Monument

'Monument' was the title of the 10 m X 3.5 m painting that took up the entire back wall if the galler.  It consisted of the word Monument stenciled in various tones of gray, thousands of times over in thick impasto, such that the work became like a bluestone wall, a massive grey monument in itself.

1977 - 1978 there was a punk band making a name for themselves in Melbourne, NEWS, which had been tagging NEWS as graffiti across the city.  These were pre-grafitti days and it seemed shocking to see so many public buildings and monuments around Melbourne being defaced in the name of NEWS. During the opening of the exhibition the band made a raid on the gallery and tagged my Monument with 'NEWS'.

A large canvas entitled 'Monument' reassures the viewer about the scope of Willis's considerable talents, but with its scrawled graffiti it serves to affirm the general feeling of impermanence which pervades the entire performance/exhibition.'
Alan McCulloch - The Herald 1978

1978

REMEMBER-FORGET
Poster Installation- Melbourne City

2000 posters were printed and pasted throughout the central Melbourne city district in 1978. 

1000 were printed with the word Remember printed across the 25  images of each poster. 1000 posters were printed with the word Forget across each of the 25 images - although both posters looked the same there were in fact subtle difference in the layout of the images in each screen.  These posters were printed by a local artist/poet printer, Ted Hopkins, of Champion Press, well known for printing Rock & Roll posters in Melbourne at the time. As such the Remember/Forget posters were the same size as the large R&R posters of the day.  These 2000 Remember/Forget posters managed to completely replace all posters in the C.B.D. for a short time, before they themselves were re-pasted out.