Adam Dutkiewicz (that’s me, folks) started Moon Arrow Press at the beginning of 2006, shortly after I had helped Michelle Smith prepare a small monograph on her late father, the artist Mervyn Smith.
The first book off the presses, A Matter of Mind: An Introduction to the Art of Wladyslaw Dutkiewicz (1918-1999), was launched on 24 August 2006 beside the Treasures Wall of the State Library of South Australia. The monograph was written and compiled by me, after resigning as art critic for The Advertiser in Adelaide after thirteen years. I was soon asked to join Adelaide Independent Weekly as art critic, a position I held for a further three years.
The choice of this date was significant for the artist, as it was a date upon which fell many of the most serious and celebratory occurrences of his life. These are recounted in the Preface by the late Dr John Bray, one of the artist’s greatest friends and a patron of many of his activities, especially in the theatre. I had gained permission to use Dr Bray’s remarks at a major survey exhibition in 1989 for the book in 1993, when I first hoped to produce a monograph: but it got waylaid due to too many commitments and looming deadlines.
I chipped away at writing a major biography over the years, eventually finishing the manuscript in 2001-02, having gained the necessary research skills and while waiting to hear results from the examiners of my doctoral thesis. From then, it became a matter of finding a way to publish that work in some form that was affordable for me and the public.
Hence the result as it is: a modest book that aims to present the artist’s history in a potted form and feature his art extensively and in as a large a format as possible, in order to reveal as best as possible their fantastic textures.
The choice of location for the launch was apt too, for the Treasures Wall has displayed material by my father and my brother, Michal, at various times, and it is situated in the linking area between the Reference Library (named after Dr. Bray) and the Institute Building, home of the Royal South Australian Society of Arts, a venue where he held his first major exhibition and shortly thereafter was elected a Fellow of the Society. He served on its Council in the early 1950s and was on the many Selection Committees into the 1970s. The society and its gallery hosted many of the major exhibitions of his career, the latest being a posthumous survey of his work from the last decade of his life, held in April 2005. Wlad was an active member of the Society until his dying day – indeed, in the last several years of his life, he was an Honorary Life Member of the Society.
In my introduction at the launch I explained the genesis and process of producing the book since it was first conceived in 1986, when I started interviewing my father during my lunch hours while working down the road in Rose Park, as a researcher on the history of the Queen Victoria Maternity Hospital, and after our weekly family dinners on Sunday afternoons.
I introduced two other speakers:
The first, Neil Thomas, is a senior archivist with the State Library of South Australia, and he talked about the processing of the artist’s archive into its collection, as it was donated to the Library shortly after the artist’s death by his family. Included in the archive are some 180 original works of art, mostly on paper, which have been scanned and are being prepared for presentation on the Library’s website for future use by the public. Since this is the first such project for the Library, there are issues that have to be worked through, but it is an exciting initiative which should be an astounding success when it is finally available to the public.
The second speaker was Elizabeth Ho, Executive Director of the Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre at the University of South Australia, who delivered a spellbinding speech recounting her encounters with the artist, his relationship with her parents, Thomas and Marjorie Steel, whom he claimed were the first people to purchase his art in Australia, and their ongoing support for his work throughout their lives. Her father also worked with Wlad on set designs for productions at the Adelaide University Theatre Guild in the late 1950s.
These sets were recorded in a series of superb photographs, but unfortunately they were lost in a house fire about a decade ago. I was flattered by her concluding remarks concerning my efforts on the book. I quote:
“Adam has brought his own special and questing mind to create this book about his father’s mind and art, sifting through the discordant layers of a rich life and exposing a special legacy. His labours have generously elucidated for us the mysterious and arresting synthesis that was this Polish Australian artist and reinforced for all of us the value of art in life.”
I later revised the volume, added a different cover so that it would conform with the style I developed for all the books in the series. After 10 years, I have now completed eight in the set as author, co-author or editor, main designer and publisher:
No. 1 – A Matter of Mind: an Introduction to the art of Wladyslaw Dutkiewicz (1918-1999), by Adam Dutkiewicz (2006)
No. 2 – Alexander Sadlo: Experimental Journey – An artist in three countries, by Adam Dutkiewicz & Gaynor Sadlo (2007)
No. 3 – The Birth of Love: Artist brothers Dusan & Voitre Marek in Czechoslovakia and post-war Australia, by Stephen Mould (2008).
No. 4 – Ludwik Dutkiewicz: Adventures in Art – Paintings, graphics, photography & films, by Adam Dutkiewicz (2009). The paperback edition is still available (very limited stocks) but is book is now available in a hardback edition from blurb.com.
No. 5 – Malcolm Carbins: Silent Depths – Paintings & Drawings 1947-2002, by Adam Dutkiewicz with Michele Klik (2010).
No. 6 – Lidia Groblicka: Suburban Iconographer – A printmaker’s view of life from Poland to Australia, by Adam Dutkiewicz (2010). This title is now out of print in paperback but is available in hardback edition from blurb.com.
No. 8 – Abstract Photography: re-evaluating visual poetics in Australian modernism and contemporary practice, by Gary Sauer-Thompson and Adam Dutkiewicz (2016). This book is available from the publisher (pbk) (standard or deluxe editions) or in hardback from blurb.com.
The titles below are available as print-on-demand titles on blurb.com.
The Path to Salt: A photographic essay on the Cheetham Salt Fields, Dry Creek, South Australia by Adam Dutkiewicz, includes a photographic series from a field trip in 2012 and a short story by the artist. It is available from blurb.com in three formats: hardcover, softcover and PDF.
Wladyslaw Dutkiewicz: A Partisan for Art: Polish-Australian artist, actor and theatrical producer by Adam Jan Dutkiewicz, is available in hardback and PDF from blurb.com.
Dr Adam Dutkiewicz can be contacted by email through firstname.lastname@example.org or by snail mail to Moon Arrow Press, Box 3072 Norwood, SA, Australia 5067.