How I Became a Smoker

How I became a smoker

oil on canvas smoking kills alice dolling
Smokin’ eyes 2016

I had just moved into a house with my friend Liz, her absolute bongo brain boyfriend James and a girl called Melissa who we met through an ad on gumtree. Of our potential housemate suitors, we picked Melissa because we didn’t mind her mustard sweater, she wasn’t french and she was wearing red lipstick; essentially she was the hottest applicant.

I’d heard on the grape vine that James had already punched a hole in the kitchen wall so I flat out refused to fork out cash for a bond that would never find its way back to me. Melissa however, being the new one got slogged $600 which she unsurprisingly, never saw again.

It was around this time that Kevin Rudd had been promising everybody a special $900 bonus and to our delight, he delivered. I spent mine on a trip to Alice Springs and my first ever ounce of weed. Inspired after visiting the red lands, my friend and I hatched a plan to become drug dealers and get rich. I texted my friend Robbie who was notorious for being constantly stoned and requested that he help us hook up an ‘oz’. We arranged to meet some guy at the uni bar and freaked everybody out by pulling the ounce out and loudly trying to ascertain whether or not it looked like good value for $250. The seasoned drug peddlers sensibly distanced themselves from the loud-mouthed girls waving around a sandwich bag of weed in a public venue so we decided to go home and start bagging up the weed into little J-bags we had decorated with pictures of jewels.

We only got 8 bags. This was disappointing as we had to sell each bag for $25. We were not going to be rich. We were not going to break even. And by ‘we’ I mean me, I was the cashpig of the operation since my friend had noticed that business wasn’t going to be profitable and felt it may not be the right time to invest in the company. This foray into business resulted in us become fully-fledged stoners.

As I was the only person in the house with a supply of weed, Liz’s stupid boyfriend James suddenly became very keen to hang out with me. It became apparent very quickly that James was a manipulative, sneaky and fairly useless person to have around. He earnt the nickname ‘Prawns’ because he used to steal prawns from Coles by shoving them down his pants and then feeding them to us for breakfast. This was perhaps his most redeeming feature. James paid no rent, contributed no money for bills and was happy to consume our food, drink and drugs as he pleased. I don’t mind sharing my things with people but sharing with him felt dirty and it pissed me off. James was always asking us for ‘just one more little bud for hot knifing’ which was infuriating as hot knifing is probably the stupidest method of weed smoking I have ever encountered. We refused him often, telling him he had to have a bong or nothing, and if he did agree to have a bong it had to be mix, not straight weed because we didn’t want to waste a single stem on that greasy little greaser.

As you’d expect, the weed ran out and I was left with an overwhelming desire to continue being stoned every day. Sadly I was out of Rudd money and was waiting for my next centrelink payment. Luckily James had found a semi rewarding relief.

The respectable baccy bong.

Tobacco compiled from cigarette butts collected outside the 6th avenue chip shop. I had always had nothing but disdain for tobacco smokers but I really, really wanted to smoke a bong, of anything, and smoking tobacco bongs gave me a brief rush that was good enough to keep on doing it. Plus Liz and James were doing it, Melissa wasn’t but she endorsed a whole lot of stupid behaviour in our household , so I jumped on the bandwagon whole heartedly. Many people were disgusted by my tendency to indulge in baccy bongs which I guess is the reason I made the obvious upgrade to smoking cigarettes. So by the middle of 2009 I had become a person I had never expected to become, a filthy SMOKER.

Wild Horses


Korean Bath House (Jjimjilbang)

When we were living in Laos I took Loki on a surprise birthday trip to Seoul. We basically ate every vegetarian thing we could find and went to the bath house every day. Loki had been to Japan a few times so he was fairly familiar with the communal bathing thing but it was a totally new situation for me.

We went to the Siloam Spa upon the recommendation of our mate Anou, he was pretty jacked about all the different rooms. He told me a story about some horrible sounding 60 degrees room with foot destroying rocks everywhere and an ice room. I had no idea what he was talking about and the website was baffling but it looked fancy and we are very fancy so of course we went.

When we arrived at the spa were handed two small orange towels, orange fisherman pants and shapeless shirts and sent into our gendered bathrooms. We could reunite on the second floor to visit the rooms in our orange uniforms or head into the same sex bathing areas downstairs. There was also a weird little gym with a rubber band machine that you put around your body and just stand there vibrating. There was also a machine which seemed like it’s sole purpose was to turn you upside down for a while.

I eventually made my way into the bathing area, I wasn’t sure what the etiquette was, some women were fully naked some were partially clothed in their underwear and pretty much everyone had an orange towel adorning their heads. I stripped down to my underwear and loitered around near the entrance to the bathing room trying to see what other people were wearing or not wearing. I noticed the ‘massage’ area which was action packed, women were lying on stretcher beds whilst other women vigorously slapped, kneaded and hosed them down. While one of the elderly attendants shot me suspicious looks I gingerly removed my underwear and crept into the bathing area. It was super wholesome and reminded me of the aquatic centre in Adelaide. Women of all ages were marching around, scrubbing each other and carrying tubs full of toiletries and salt (?). I stood under a shower for a while surveying the scene and eventually decided to get my own tub and fill it up with salt. I carried it around to a few different flavoured and temperatured baths and put one of my towels on my head.

I was really struck by how normal it seemed, everyone was so comfortable, kids were running around, women were scrubbing their elderly mothers and periodically strolling over to the salt station for a refill. I couldn’t get over the colours and perspective of the scene, so many orange towels, square bathing pools, columns and showers in pastel turquoise and dark blue tiles and black hair.

I got in trouble when I left the bathing area and tried to walk back to the change rooms. I wasn’t meant to step off the drying mat until I was dry, I had stepped off the mat and left a trail of conspicuously large wet footprints across the room. The attendant herded me back onto my corner and started mopping up my terrible mess with a towel.

I was compelled to paint a picture, for some reason it had to be a huge picture, so I went and bought a 2 by 2 metre bit of canvas as soon as I got back to Laos. I like small sections of it better than the overall effect, I wanted to keep it fairly under developed but got a bit carried away in some areas. I noticed a lot of art in Wats (temples) around Vientiane used bright orange outlines and really wanted to give that a crack.

When we left Laos I didn’t know what to do with it so I rolled it up and shoved it in a trash fire.

These two crops are my favourite areas, I think these little snippets most accurately capture the vision I had in my head.

Flash back!

I’ve been feeling a little cranky lately because it only just occurred to me that as an English teacher – I work during the time when pole dance classes usually happen. I feel like I can’t win on the pole front! First I live in Laos – the land of no pole dance, and now I have access to at least 4 different studios and almost all the classes are in the evenings. I’ll figure something out, but I started reflecting on my first and only pole performance and how it influenced my recent performance – By Product.

I worked really hard on this routine, I trained for weeks and spent hours analysing and researching different dance styles. Sometimes when I watch the video I feel super proud and other times I feel super embarrassed imaging all the ‘real’ pole dancers judging my scrappy style, lack of tricks and most unpointed toes.

I felt disconnected and a bit left behind when I left Adelaide a couple of months after performing this and moved to Laos, all my old classmates got better and better and kept posting videos of the incredible things they were doing. Meanwhile, I was unlearning all the fundamental moves and sweating all over the floor.

I eventually realised that I should focus on myself and what I had and what I could do. I started doing more freestyles and more dance and tried to just have fun. I became a lot more comfortable in my own style and abilities and realised that just because there are pole dance ‘rules and styles’ I could pretty much do whatever I liked and it didn’t actually matter. That’s where By Product comes into it, I really wanted to do something that no rules or boundaries.

This routine was very fun to make but it was tough because a little voice in my head kept saying I had just gone for this weird style because I was too shit at proper pole dancing to do something elegant or sexy. But it was also so much the right thing for me, I really like trying to dance in an exotic or contemporary style but I also think its really important to challenge people. Plus, to be honest, I love pole but like 20 routines in a row can get pretty tedious, there needs to be some kind of freak in there somewhere to shake things up a bit.

Endangered Bodies

Hello hello!

I have a few artworks on display at the Endangered Bodies art exhibition/conference at the University of Lisbon. A digital print and a video that appeared in The Most Beige, two are paintings I created in Laos and four drawings from my recent artist residency. Check them out below!



Beigers is an exploration of bodies, shapes, perspectives and tones. The figures and forms are caught in a balancing act between perfection, unsightliness and absurdity.

Hand drawn and digital colour by alice dolling the most beige

‘Fitspo I & II’

‘By-product’ (drawings)

– So, guys, are you a Legman, a Boobman…or a Bum man?
He said, “I will look at the face first. If the face is worth it, then I will consider looking at the breast or buttocks.” –
This series is an experiment in simplification. 


‘Beauty makeup’

A playful examination of how we are expected to maintain and manage our bodies.

AIR – Done and done


It’s done! One month went by so quickly and now I am living one neighbourhood over from Zaratan in the very top room of a four storey building on a hill overlooking Lisbon and working at a fairly prestigious English college. Weird how quickly you can find yourself living in a place.

Kicking off our time in Lisbon with this residency was a fantastic plan. Loki and I feel connected to the gallery and it’s community and it’s comforting to know we can always wander in for a beer or a coffee and check out what’s going on.

Gemma and Jose decided to keep our (mine and the Italians) exhibitions up for an extra week which was nice. I think they didn’t expect it to be so annoying to install (hello 6.5metre drawing sorry everyone) so they thought they should get as much out of it as possible.

This residency helped me to understand and value my practice and process. Doing an artist talk made me feel a lot more confident in myself and validated in my creative choices. Gemma offered gentle guidance and helped me conceptualise my work in new ways.

Below are the artworks we ending up showing in the exhibition and a couple of drawings that we ended up cutting.

And there was the performance ‘By-product’ on the opening night. The video was then screened at the gallery.


So yeah, I’ve done an artist residency now! I can’t wait to do another but it will be awhile because I’ve joined the ole workforce again. In the meantime I’ll see how I settle into working life and think about getting a studio space with a couple of mates.


In other news, we are in a lovely apartment in Bairro Alto and there is a VERY tiny and cute mouse called Ferguson who keeps scooting around. He needs to get out of here though because he has been getting a bit big for his boots and ran across a pile of mushrooms as I was cutting them up on the dining table. FERGUSON! Plus there are actually two Fergusons AND then I had a dream that there were like, 80 Fergusons, so we are considering catching him in a box and putting him in a garden somewhere.

I have some work showing at a conference this week, Endangered Bodies, and they will be screening my video Beauty Makeup which is exciting. It will be nice to hang around at a university and pretend I work/study there.

AIR – By-product

Here is the video of my performance By-product in the form in which it was live streamed on September 27, 2018. By-product explores the perception of bodies and social behaviour by turning a potentially sexy attitude into something grotesque.

‘Horses’ – Workhorse
‘Beige II’ – Mannix Flowerday

Livestream/video/effects/nicolas cage courtesy of Zaratan Arte Contemporânea

Final residency post coming soon!



That there is the poster.

We hung the show over the past two evenings. When I say ‘we’ I definitely do not count myself as a useful team member. I always forget how much I struggle with hanging until I step into a gallery with a pile of random shit I’ve made and someone asks my opinion on something. I usually just stand there pretending to think about it but really I am just wondering if I can just arrange everything on the wall in a vaguely symmetrical shape and be done with the whole thing. I also am absurdly bad at things that require precision – ie hanging something level on a wall. I literally broke my foot trying to level a painting a couple of years ago.

Luckily, Gemma and Jose (the Zaratan team) are great at what they do and also very patient with the likes of me. Laying all my work out on the ground I was surprised by the links and stories they were able to draw from things I was used to seeing haphazardly blue-tacked around my studio in no particular order.

Here is Gemma trying to find a way to make these little weirdos work together.

It was surreal to see people treat my work with such care, like they were precious objects. I don’t know if that is indicative of my not valuing my work enough or perhaps just the nature of my work. One of my pieces was a 6.5 metre painting that I hadn’t quite intended to be so long! It proved fairly difficult to hang, and had it been left to me would have probably ended up crookedly pasted in an ill-fitting corner. Here is the offending item –

Gemma has really helped me to understand the value of my process and the freedom with which I can just make and make and make. What I tend to see as a bunch of weird experiments can actually all come together and tell an (almost cohesive) story. I remember one of my illustration teachers at UniSA telling me that if you create something very quickly or very simple that doesn’t mean that it is worth any less than something time consuming or detailed. Which I liked at the time because it was relevant for me but the truth of it still hasn’t entirely sunken into my brain.

Here is everyone working on hanging yet another inconveniently large piece of my work whilst I stand idly by.

In other news, back home it was my grandpa Scott’s funeral today. I really wish I could have been there but am also relieved that I didn’t have to cry all day which is what I would have done. My dad suggested that I draw something to distribute at the funeral – here is one of the images I sent him – 

Scottie’s passing is bittersweet. As he grew older his memory deteriorated but he maintained an incredible optimism that inspired those around him. If you were to ask him how he was on any given day, he would likely tell you that he was ‘very well’ and assure you that if he wasn’t very well he would soon forget about it. He looked forward to each day and savoured simple pleasures like dancing in the supermarket, discussing languages, eating a piece of fish, contemplating characteristics of wool samples, going to the bank and hanging out with his best mate Alwyn (my grandma).

My final news is also very bittersweet. I got some great new shoes for work, those who know me well will understand that that a lot of thought was put into purchasing the correct size. Despite 45 minutes of wandering around the store googling Doc Marten sizing charts and different shoe lasts, I haven’t managed to escape the dreaded Doc Martens breaking in blister.

Seeya later drongos!



First I recommend listening to this song because I can’t stop but I can guarantee that youtube will then deliver lots of 90s and early 2000s hits as a follow up. When I was in high school and made a new hotmail email address every week I was inspired to make disco_lemonade@hotmail.com (though I think I spelt disco with a ‘q’) but no one else seemed to think it was cool so it didn’t stick. I suppose I just used it to troll people on MSN messenger.

A LOT has been going on over here. Firstly there was the artist talk, which was nerve wracking and time consuming to prepare BUT very valuable in terms of making sense of my process and my work. The video of the talk is here.

Then Loki and I were NOT DJS, which was great fun. The gallery also hosted some performers that night, we had the pleasure of watching these two wild cards doing some boogin’ and casual box cutter holding. Video available here (the second half is footage of Loki and I playing sweet tunes with Australian animal noises over the top).

On a sad note my grandpa Scott passed away the night before the artist talk. It doesn’t quite seem like a reality because I am so far removed from my family at the moment. I think that it is something that I probably won’t fully realise until I go back to Adelaide for Xmas.

On a good but annoying note, I got a teaching job at a fairly prestigious language school. Annoying because I have a week of orientation that infringes upon my artist residency but good because I managed to bumble my way into a great opportunity. Also, I have a residence card now!

This week I tried out my performance piece, which now has a name – “By-product” and will be performed live this Thursday at the gallery. It will be live streamed also.

I have also been working on some things inspired by the performance but I won’t post any pictures yet because they will be unveiled in the open studio on Thursday.

In the meantime, here are the fruits of recent labour.


I had just discovered that a SPECIAL FRIEND in Melbourne had arranged for me to receive fresh new canvas for my birthday! (ONE THOUSAND THANK YOUS). So I started trying to come up with cool ideas, gone are the days when I can paint over the discarded canvases of students past, I didn’t want to waste it. So I drew the above image – I’ve being doing some more collage and it is inspired by some of the figures that I have been playing with.

But, I wasn’t into it, I didn’t want to waste my canvas on that picture. So I changed gear and did some selfie studies.

I was feeling a bit flat. I liked these studies but still couldn’t bring myself to touch the canvas in case my weird mood wrecked it somehow. So I painted on a big piece of wood Gemma fished out for me in the first week of the residency.

Not quite finished yet. Sometimes painting from a photograph drives me absolutely nuts and I can’t stop finding errors and redoing bits. But sometimes it’s really meditative to just paint in a more realistic style. I tried to use lighter colours than I usually do – I usually end up with dark purple and bright yellow skin tones. Every couple of years I seem to bust out a self portrait like this and then move on so I guess I was due for one.



AIR – Ponto I Ponto and Flecha

Here is a brief overview of the current exhibition, Ponto I Ponto at Zaratan.


My only prior knowledge was that it was going to be ‘heaps of dicks’. Mine and Loki’s imaginations went pretty wild. We were like ‘is there going be actual dicks everywhere?’ It was actually a lot more slick than the haphazard dick fest we were imagining.



We have been eating A LOT of bananas. The Italians made a banana cake today and it is all gone but I dearly wish I had more. I really like how bright the bananas look up against the black and white. There is also a video compilation of lots of different videos where people have drawn or made or referred to dicks at inappropriate times. It’s very enjoyable.

Tonight Loki and I went to a performance art festival called (Re)union and watched a piece called Fletcha (arrow) by a Brazilian artist called Luara Learth. It took me by surprise, I really enjoyed it. She moved ultra-slowly and covered her face in read paint, it looked like it was oozing out of her face because she was so slow. Then she turned into gremlin and created lots of really intense and amazing tableaus. At one point I felt really sick because she kept moving her eyes and her face looked like burnt flesh and it just got to me. It was great though, I sent her a facebook message afterwards to let her know that I really liked it, and she told me she was glad I liked it.

AIR – Artist talk time

EDIT: Artist talk video available HERE

bear with the audio delay it sorts itself out after a few minutes


I’m doing an artist talk. TONIGHT. This is the first time I have been asked to do an artist talk. It has to be 30 minutes long, and so I have a powerpoint presentation of 30 slides. This is the poster –

The artwork is a digital collage I have created during the residency. This week has felt less productive in terms of creating work because I have been so focused on the artist talk and collecting strange sounds for the non-DJ cycle this Saturday Ciclo Ñ-Dj #74 /// Waiting For A Mate. I am pretty sure there will videos and live streaming from the facebook event page so check it out.

I’ve also been working on a big ink drawing this week and thoroughly enjoying my big roll of paper but I’m super reluctant to cut it and start a new picture because I like the never ending-ness of the roll. Here it is!


Hahaha just kidding, that’s a bung thing I did on a cornflakes box.


I really like it but the ink did a sudden change and became really opaque on the third figure, I think it must have all settled at the bottom of the pot. I am not keen to repaint the lighter areas because I am not patient. Also, those little bristly hairs will take FOR EVER omg. I guess I will just keep going and see what happens.

Last important piece of news is that I will be filming and developing my performance this sunday. Here is a little ideas collage I made.