Saturday, 8 February 2014

February already!

Oh dear! It's terrible to realise that it's February already and I've only managed one post this year...in spite of very good intentions. My attempt to establish a daily practice - to produce something, a collage, a drawing, each day has faltered, staggered, restarted.  I have to blame the lethargy-inducing extreme heat. We've had strings of days around and above the 40 degree Celcius mark. Very draining! I have been working on a print for ‘Bimblebox 153 Birds’, a multi-arts project responding to the 151+ bird species recorded on the Bimblebox Nature Refuge, Queensland, which is threatened by the proposed China First mine. I'm working on a couple of versions of a linocut print of the bird I was allocated - the Varied Sitella. More information and further links can be found on the project's facebook page here.
Here are working proofs of both. I was surprised that I prefer version 1, when I thought that version 2 was looking much stronger. They both need more work however.
version 1

version 2


I treated myself to a short trip to Sydney this week, mainly to see the Yoko Ono exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art. It is a very participatory exhibition - lots of works that visitors add to, or may take away from. It's quite beautiful and meditative, which sounds somewhat contradictory in light the participatory elements, but true nevertheless.  There are a couple of videos of Yoko performing her work 'Cut Piece', one from 1964 and one from 2003. It's quite difficult to watch the early one.  She looks like a young, very vulnerable, but courageous woman - very moving. In the latter she's much more in control and respected by the audience/participants. There was an early Fluxus film of anonymous bottoms that I found funny and intriguing.
Wish Tree for Sydney
 
Morning Beams / Cleaning Piece - Riverbed both 1996
 
We're all water 2006 / 2013

If you happen to be in Sydney over the next 6 weeks or so, I would highly recommend making the trip to Carriageworks, not far from Redfern Station, to see Chance, the wonderful installation by French artist Christian Boltanski. Carriageworks is a multi-arts venue in a huge old industrial building, presumably where train carriages were built. It's the perfect space for Boltanski's tall, narrow scaffolding structure through which a ribbon - of grainy images of faces of newborn infants sourced from Polish press announcements - runs.


The building is pretty impressive  - the corridor to the toilets!
    
I also went to the Art Gallery of NSW to see America, Painting a Nation, which was quite interesting. Much more impressive, for me, is the exhibition Yirrkala-drawings. There are 81 coloured crayon drawings on butchers paper from 1947, by senior ceremonial leaders at Yirrkala in north-east Arnhem Land, who produced hundreds of the vibrant drawings for the anthropologists Ronald and Catherine Berndt.

I was also delighted to see Imants Tillers' Conversations with the Bride on show in the 20th Century Australian galleries. It was quite a wonderful experience to wander through and have an up-close viewing of this installation that I had studied as a student of Australian Art History at Latrobe University in the mid 1990s.  You can probably work out from these details the identity of 'the bride' referred to in the title!


Imants Tillers Conversations with the Bride (details)

Though pushed for time (had to catch the train to the airport), I always love to pay a visit to some of my favourite works - Grace Cossington Smith's The Curve of the Bridge (1928-29), The Lacquer Room (1936) and The Sock Knitter (1915) and the Margaret Prestons. There was also a small group of Martin Sharp's brilliant posters on the wall, including Mr Tambourine Man, from about 1967.
An image of Mister Tambourine Man by Martin Sharp
I had a fabulous time - Sydney is a great place for a flying visit!

Sunday, 12 January 2014

New Year (almost!) daily practice

I'm beginning the new year with a commitment to try to maintain an (almost) daily practice. I was motivate by reading back over the last year or so of the Missouri Bend Studio blog, particularly her discussion of daily rituals and practice, which I found extremely admirable - something to work toward. As well as talking to a friend who resolved to take one photo a day.  I wonder how she's going.  Less that two weeks in and I've already decided that attempting a very quick (bad) drawing late at night in order to fulfil a daily drawing commitment was really a bit pointless. So, I've decided that I will continue to attempt a daily practice, while allowing myself days off if that's how it works out. Inspired by some of Missouri Bend's work, I started with small collages, as I had also been messing about with one or two during the quiet days between Christmas and the New Year. This one if from then.
 
And the first of this year's are
which started off with the little drawing...

Then last Sunday I went to Drop By Drawing at the National Gallery of Victoria, where two or three hundred people sat in the 18th Century European galleries and drew, under the guidance of artist Minna Gilligan.  It was good fun and I particularly enjoyed the 'blind contour drawing with development' exercise and produced this
which I quite liked.
So then I pulled out my long-neglected copy of Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain and thought that it might be a good basis for my daily drawings...blind contours really take the pressure off.  I have become very tight and in fact somewhat terrified of drawing. Too tense to put pencil to paper. So,
      and an Agapanthus flower in bud, both ways - blind
 and with looking
 
Feeling much happier!
 
 

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Wonder Room & The Forest of Ambiguity

Over the past week I've finally caught a couple of exhibitions I've been very keen to see.  My high expectations were well rewarded in both cases. Wonder Room at Maroondah Art Gallery is indeed very wonderful! The work of five artists - Heather Shimmen, Deborah Klein, Rona Green, Filomena Coppola and Paul Compton - are linked by the idea of the Wunderkammer, the precursor to museums as we know them. These were personal collections of bizarre and unusual objects, mostly from the natural world, but also including architectural artefacts and handcrafted objects, popular throughout Europe from the 16th until the 19th century.

While all the work in the exhibition deals with the strange and exotic in some way, there is great diversity in approach and outcome. This is particularly apparent in the case of Shimmen and Klein, who both work with images of hybrid creatures - part woman/part insect and both work (in part, at least) with linocut prints.  Shimmen's insect women are borne out of the artist's interest in the way in which many people have a largely irrational fear of insects, together with her interest in folkloric stories from the Australian bush. A sense of looking back is reflected in her linocuts that mimic engravings from old books, their fragmentation and distortion adding to the powerful sense of the uncanny and stories obscured by history. Klein's very beautiful, jewel-like Insect Women and Moth Masks have an otherworldly beauty that conjures up the metamorphoses and transformations of fairytale and myth. See her Insect Women here.
Paul Compton's highly detailed drawings of cabinets of curiosities playfully illustrate the range of possibilities to be found in the realm of the bizarre and the wonderful. I particularly enjoyed his teenage werewolf. His work demonstrates wonderful draughtsmanship and humour in equal prortions. I found Filomena Coppola's fleshy, hairy pastel drawings based upon the Australian Orchid - part animal, part vegetable - entrancingly beautiful - not at all as creepy as they might sound. It is a beautifully curated exhibition. Paul Compton's small ink and gouache drawings are never overpowered by larger works, such as Rona Green's feisty anamorphic animal portraits. At today's fascinating artists' talk it was pointed out that this, in fact, was a reflection of the Wunderkammer, where large objects were often displayed alongside smaller, more detailed artefacts and relics. Several of Deborah Klein's works are displayed in beautiful antique timber chests that also add to the aura of the Wunderkammer, as does the inclusion of Shimmen's own collection of curiosities. The work of each of the five artists is not exhibited in a discrete body but rather interspersed with each of the others. In the larger room a diagonal wall divides the room so that glimpses of each of the artists' work can be seen from any point.
Here are some images of Rona's work and the invitation with an image of Paul's work.  The exhibition runs for another week and it is certainly worth the trip to Ringwood!
Wonder Room
Elizabeth Banfield's Forest of Ambiguity, showing in the Little Window of Opportunity at Port Jackson Press is breathtaking in its finely detailed cutting (of both lino and paper) and attention to detail. For some time now Banfield's subject has been the Eucalypt forests near her home in the Dandenong ranges.  The contradictory ideas of the contemplative peace of the towering Eucalypt forest and the danger of bushfires during the dry late summer months is explored through the simple motif of the variety of leaf shapes.  Banfield's books and hanging pieces are beautifully executed, complex in their layering of texture, positive and negative and cut-out forms. More information here.
 In the main window of Port Jackson Press is a larger, very beautiful work, The Afterimage.
 
http://www.portjacksonpress.com.au/artists.php?ar=ae12381pjpa1025297771
Forest of Ambiguities continues until 3 December

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Cats and Cohen - done and dusted!

Well, my exhibition, The Obsessions of a Woman of a Certain Age - Cohen & Cats, is finished. I'm very happy...lots of people came to see it, had lots of positive feedback and even sales!! Thank you to everyone who came to the opening and throughout the exhibition. Here are some images, for anyone who would have liked to see it... These are from A Taxonomy of (Art) Cats



Small prints



installation
Sleeping / sitting down cats
And From the Book of LC.  The space was tiny, so it was impossible (without a wide angle lens) to get the  whole wall of the installation in one image.  

 
 

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

The Obsessions of a Woman of a Certain Age - Cohen & cats

It's been very quiet here lately because I've been frantically preparing for a solo exhibition at 69 Smith Street Gallery, Fitzroy. You might call it a self-indulgent celebration of things I love!

It's installed now, in a small gallery upstairs.  There are two bodies of work - A Taxonomy of (Art) Cats, linocut prints of cats from Art History, organised into pseudo-scientific classifications; and From the Book of L.C., a cluster of small paintings of fragments of Leonard Cohen poetry/lyrics in colourful abstract fields. The opening is on Saturday afternoon - do drop in if you are able!
Here is a peek at the paintings. It's not actually that blue. I was SURE I had the camera on the right setting!

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Another print exchange print

 
Earlier this year I decided to participate in three or four print exchanges.  This is for the second one - a  Print People exchange. Relating to the series A Taxonomy of (Art) Cats (read more here.), for these small-print exchanges I've decided upon hybrids - cats that combine elements from two or three sources.  The form of this one is based upon a work by an anonymous 19th century American printmaker working in a na├»ve style, with markings from a 17th century woodcut from an English publication, The Historie of Four-footed Beastes, compiled by Edward Topsall; and Barbara Hanrahan (Australian printmaker and writer.) I bought myself Annette Stewart's biography of Hanrahan for Mother's Day and it arrived in time for me to incorporate the dotted chest/underbody markings she often used. I hadn't realised that there were cats in a lot of her prints. If you don't know her work here is a link to some of her prints, held in the Art Gallery of NSW. (oh, now that I look, there are lots of cats!)  I read most of her books, both novels and short stories, years ago...think I'll have to dip in again after the biography.
 

 

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

A Girl Waiting - BookArtObject

I have posted off the first three copies of my BookArtObject artist's book, A Girl Waiting.  Six more to go!  Details of the project can be seen here.
So here are a few images...can't really show any more until I've sent off the others. Linocuts of places the girl might be waiting, obsessively typed reasons and the girl silhouettes all derive from Art History.