Between August 1977 and February 1978, Arkley travelled to Europe and New York with his first wife and fellow artist Elizabeth Gower.
A small notebook from this period is filled with notes and sketches analysing patterns they had encountered in everything from the Paris railway station to Japanese prints and the paintings of Henri Matisse. However, it was the home-grown equivalent of the ornate Art Deco and Art Nouveau wrought-iron doorways and gateways in Paris that he documented in a series of black and white photographs that would literally shape his next body of work. Following his return to Australia, the artist discovered the potential of the humble fly-wire security door. Not only did the artist subsequently use the door format to arrive at the canvas proportions for a new series of paintings, the shapes and rhythms of some of these doorways, with their curlicues and scrolling lines, were incorporated into works such as Arabesque (1979). In these paintings Arkley consciously sought to destabilise the boundaries and muddy the waters between the aspirations of modernism, cross cultural decorative traditions and everyday ornamentation.