Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Progress - circles and gelatin

Just a few images of the progress I've made recently. 
The shoe-box is just about done.  It's been a lot of work!
And I've had a few more sessions messing about with gelatin printing - some days more successfully than others. These are some beginnings, works in progress, experiments and a couple just about done...the print, anyway.  They might be book pages.

As you can see, some more successful than others.  But there are possibilities!

Saturday, 7 February 2015

I suppose it is too late to wish you all a Happy New Year!

I am beginning to settle into my new life - and am loving it! I've never lived in the country before, but have for many years had a desire to do so eventually, and have been talking about making this move - to Castlemaine - for about ten years. So, it has taken me a while....
I'm currently driving to Melbourne once a week for a couple of days work, and am really enjoying it; getting to see the countryside in the best light, particularly the early morning, but early summer evenings are lovely too.  I've begun to realise why so many artists are drawn to the landscape as subject. I'm beginning to feel quite emotional when I reach the hills as I near home - after only a few months!
And although I've still two or three fairly major things to organise - particularly getting a shed lined and insulated and transformed into a decent studio - I do have a small studio space in the house and have started playing around pretty regularly with ideas and media.  I visited the studio of a new friend, a local artist, and we had a lovely couple of hours of show and tell, which inspired me to get back to making books.
So I made a gelatine/glycerine plate, pulled out some book works-in-progress and have had a few sessions playing.
I'm quite pleased with these experiments and beginnings.

I am also currently working something to have a small presence in the Castlemaine State Festival in March - having a lot of fun cutting circles from prints.
I've got a month or so to fill that white shoe-box with circles.  It's a looking back at my printmaking up to this point.  Seems a reasonable thing to do, with everything changing...and moving made me realize what a lot of work I have sitting around in boxes and folders. 
I'm very much steeped in Leonard Cohen lyrics/poetry at the moment, as I'm reading another biography - I'm Your Man, by Sylvie Simmons - given to me by one of my lovely sons for Christmas (although he didn't actually choose it. You get the best presents when you buy them yourself!)  The biography is the best I've read...and it makes me go back to the songs, listening closely.
So the shoe-box of circles of prints will be titled after a Cohen song - That Don't Make It Junk. The lyric goes, 'took my diamond to the pawnshop, but that don't make it junk'. These are all quite flawed diamonds - mostly student works, proofs and unsuccessful prints.
I also had one more miniprint edition to send off in January - for the Winged Messengers Exchange, which will be exhibited at Hahndorf Academy in the Adelaide Hills during Adelaide Fringe Festival. Proceeds from sales will go to the Bird SA conservation fund. Some more information and images can be found here.

There are birds there! See, four of them, on the wire, (another ongoing Cohen-esque theme in my work), and it's not the first time, either, that I've used the 'Counting Crows' rhyme!

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Just a second...and other print exchanges

It has been a busy year!  Buying and selling and moving house - from the Melbourne to central Victoria, and a trip to Japan, has meant that I haven't had much time for making art.  I did, however sign up to three or four mini-print exchanges, which was a great thing to do, as at least I did get a few small things made.  I moved here almost three months ago, but with the trip to Japan just 2 1/2 weeks later (which was a pretty crazy thing to have organised...but the flights were so cheap!), and then a short trip to Perth to visit my son who moved there earlier this year, I haven't even managed to set up my studio properly yet. It's all been very positive, of course, so I'm not complaining...  Hopefully by the New Year, I'll be all set up and ready to go.
But to finish the year, I thought I'd post images of the prints I made for the various exchanges.
They are all linocut prints and I had to keep them fairly straightforward, in terms of process.
Firstly there was the Magpie postcard exchange, organised by the Printmaking Sisters (Annie Day and Robin Ezra) from NSW.

More information and images of all the postcards can be seen here.
Next was the International Print Exchange, a long-running, unthemed exchanged organised by greendoorprintmaking.org. See more here.

My print a simple image of an armchair - 'Waiting'.

Next was another themed postcard exchange- Bears and Blooms: Postcards from the Edge of Extinction, organised by Bittondi Printmakers Association in Adelaide.  My postcard is of a small orchid, the Robust Greenhood Orchid, previously believed to be extinct, which was recently discovered to be growing near Bendigo, not too far from where I'm now living.

Most recently I posted off my twelve prints to the US for the huge exchange organised by The Sketchbook Project. The theme 'Just a second' seemed to offer so many possibilities. I considered my second-place medals from my teenage calisthenics years, some sort of stop sign (just a minute, hang on, wait up...), but was attracted to the idea of second-best. Perhaps - just a second-best friend...but I went with 'Just a second-best dress', partly because I have a bit of a collection of images of beautiful vintage dresses.

Because I was so pushed for time, (aren't I always!) I forgot to take photos before I posted them off, so this is a proof.
I'm quite in awe of the organisers of all these exchanges, who dedicate so much time, energy and organisational skill to each project. In most cases there is an exhibition of the prints and usually one print from each participant is used for fundraising.  It's a wonderful thing to do! Yay for the www!

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Well, I really have been distracted!!

In spite of starting the year with very good intentions, it just doesn't seem to be happening here! I have made some work, but life has largely been absorbed by a long-planned move to the country. I've had to resolve to get this done and not worry too much about what else doesn't get done...because one of my primary aims is to change my life so that I have more time for art making and writing. I sold my house in the Northern suburbs of Melbourne about six weeks ago, and am now in the very exciting process of looking for something to buy in central Victoria.

I have been slowly working on another linocut  in the series 'A Taxonomy of (Art) Cats'. This one is 'Two cats', and is a little different in format.
Here is a peek at a section of it. I'll show some more later...

The other thing that I finally managed to do is to open an Etsy shop.
I launched it about a month ago with six prints, and now have to get more active.
Planning on putting something else up very soon.
Here's a link to it, if you care to take a look.

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.
Forest of Ambiguities continues until 3 December