Friday, 25 August 2017

Working with what I have

I know I'm not the only one who has days sometimes when nothing works, I have no ideas and I feel like I should just give up trying to be an artist.  Last Friday was one of those - just terrible! (It didn't help that I was trying to print in greens. That, I think I should give up on!)
At least I have other creative interests and after giving up for the day I could do some knitting!

I have had a couple of much more positive days in the studio in the last week and also have to remind myself that part of the issue at the moment is that I'm working under the self-imposed restriction of working with what I have. As a printmaker who doesn't often work on a large scale I have lots of small pieces of 'leftover' paper and this year (being somewhat financially challenged!) I am attempting to use up what I have.

Also, I suppose part of the problem at the moment is that I have been working on a body of work that will hopefully have several  groups of outcomes - a series of square format prints in different (smallish) sizes, some larger works that will be pieced from yet smaller squares and a series of small artist books. So currently I have a lot of work in progress, but at times have difficulty in seeing how I will get to a finished state with much of it.
So these are some of the pieces that hopefully will eventually be part of something!

And trying out some possibilities for a pieced work in blues...

or this

(Most days) I have enjoyed experimenting with colour and layering forms both natural and manmade, using stencils on a gelatin plate, working with cardboard collagraph plates, and finally overprinting some with linocut text - fragments of Leonard Cohen lyrics/poetry.
Still a way to go!

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Workshop with Lorna Crane

This time last week I was deep into a very stimulating workshop with artist Lorna Crane from Pambula.
It was part of the FibreArts Australia forum held at Ballarat Grammar - almost of week of art-making and mixing will lovely like-minded people. It was excellent!
Lorna is primarily a painter, but her speciality is that she makes her own brushes from a range of found and natural materials.  The brushes are themselves works of art, but are also the means for some very expressive, gestural mark-making.

So these are some of the brushes I made....

 and these are some of the first marks...

After a bit of messing about with the ink and the various brushes, we began to make some books...
working on different types of found papers and fabric, which we were then encourages to tear up and use to collage.  It was all very liberating experimental.  A bit like a good way!

There was also some stitching (as this was a fibre foum).

Most days I went for a late afternoon walk around Lake Wendouree, which was very close and much bigger and more beautiful than I'd realised.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Work in Progress - and some finished!

I have been working!
I've been enjoying experimenting with collagraphs and gelatin printing, layering and experimenting with colour.

The main collagraph plate I've been using recently - a bit steam-punk!

Building up layers - gelatin prints and collagraph.

Recently got to the point of finishing some small  (18 x 18 cm) works off - with some linocut text for an exhibition with a 30 x 30 cm size limit.  The size they will be when framed.
Still a bit Leonard Cohen obsessed!

For Leonard 1

For Leonard 2

For Leonard 3

For Leonard 4

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Too late for a quick look back !!

Oh my goodness, I started writing this post as a quick look at the last few months of 2015 as the year was finishing!
But now it's long gone!
I was just going to touch upon some of the highlights of the last two or three months of the year.
I'm going to have to give up on that and just mention a couple of things here now, then start off 2016 with a new post about current things.
Forgive me.

During 2015, my first full year of living in central Victoria I was very happy to become part of the Goldfields Printmakers group. More information about the group can be found here.
James Pasakos, from Federation University, Ballarat, attended  IMPACT9 - the international biennial printmaking, held in 2015 in Hangzhou, China, from 18 to 21 September. There he presented a folio of prints by members of the group referencing the history of the Chinese prospectors in the region during the gold rush of the later 19th century.
For my research I visited Bendigo's Golden Dragon Museum and Chinese Garden. I was very impressed by the huge collection of artefacts, objects and installations.  I could have stayed much longer than the time I'd allowed! I'll have to get back there.

I've always been attracted to ginger jars, so used one on each print, combined with
calligraphy on the first taken from the inner wall of the garden.
Well-known Beijing poet and calligrapher Ke Wen Hui arrived in Australia for a family visit in 1998. Upon viewing the Golden Dragon Museum he was impressed by the Chinese heritage in Bendigo, and composed several poems, painting them on the walls.
The given translation of the poem I used is:
'In deep thinking, visitors will go home with cranes nestled in their sleeves. Behold the beauty and prosperity of the Garden. Surrounded by the tranquility of this environment, you will only think reflective thoughts.'
The other image on the second print is a detail from an embroidered garment.
(Somewhat dodgy images, sorry.)

My last post was just before a small solo exhibition I had in October/November at 69 Smith Street gallery, a small artist-run gallery in Collingwood (an inner suburb of Melbourne). The gallery is a double-storey shopfront with multiple spaces. It's nice to exhibit there because there are always several other solo or group shows there at the same time and so you get quite a good audience.  I had a small space upstairs and showed prints from four different bodies of work.  The last year or so has been a time of trying to work out where I'm going.

At the opening, with a couple of works from the series With these hands - self portrait.

I have made quite a lot of work relating to knitting and other needlecrafts over the years.
The works in the image above continue that theme.

There were a couple of recent works from the ongoing series, A Taxonomy of (Art) Cats and new works messing about with still life elements and layering.
This one is more recent; getting a bit braver with colour!

I'm really enjoying working on this series, being very playful and experimental with colour.
I'll post some more images quite soon.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Simple Things

I've been very busy making work for various exhibitions and frequently forget to take photos of works in progress. But i have a small solo exhibition opening next week and so post this quickly here and hopefully may get back at more length very soon.

With these hands - Self-portrait 2 2015

Simple things - Linocuts
69 Smith Street Gallery

69 Smith Street, FITZROY 3065
Opening - Friday 23 October, 6 - 8 pm
21 October - 8 November 2015

Wed – Sat 11am – 5pm, Sun 12pm – 5pm

Penny Peckham works primarily as a printmaker, and with a background in Art History, much of the work she produces relates to her areas of research, particularly art by or relating to women. This exhibition includes linocut prints from several series.  The newest, which gives its title to the exhibition, is an exploration of simple still life elements. There are two works from the series  A Taxonomy of (Art)Cats,  prints of cats taken from various of Art Historical sources, and organized into playful scientific classifications, and the With these hands (self portrait) works are part of an ongoing series of long standing. 

Monday, 1 June 2015

Printing knitting!

Planning on combining these two plates as a single image. Have printed the knitting hands (mine) several times in order to play around. Perhaps I should remove all of the dark knitted fabric...or lighten it  up very much, leaving just just a suggestion?

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Making Connections

In the last couple of weeks or so I've managed to get to see a handful of fabulous exhibitions locally.
First, I went to Woodbine Art in the lovely village of Malmsbury for the opening of Melinda Harper's exhibition of paintings, prints and embroideries. Some of the works actually combine painting and embroidery. She lives not too far from me in central Victoria and is a founding member (as am I) of Castlemaine Press, a printmaking collective, which was launched last year, not long after I moved to Castlemaine, and which will have its own studio in the next few months at Lot 19.
I've admired Harper's colourful abstract paintings for some years. In fact, you can see her influence in my series of paintings, From the Book of LC - Leonard Cohen lyrics set within coloured abstract fields.

There is also a link to the work of Vivienne Binns (the subject of my doctoral thesis). Her In Memory of the Unknown Artist paintings look like modernist abstract paintings, but they bare actually based upon what she calls 'domestic surfaces', including carpets, bathroom tiles, as well as knitted rugs she purchased in country op shops. One of Harper's painting/embroideries is based upon a piece of cross stitch that she found in a Castlemaine op shop. A tentative link perhaps, but these works certainly reference needlework, an art form not always considered 'art'.  There is to be a major retrospective of Harper's work, opening at Heide Museum of Modern Art in late June, which I'm looking forward to immensely. Here is some information about it.

I also went to Bendigo (for a job interview) and so dropped into the Bendigo Art Gallery for lunch (which was delicious) and to see Imagining Ned. There were a few familiar (from Heide) Nolan and Tucker works there, as well as some Kelly-inspired work by contemporary artists, including a fabulous linocut print - Self Portrait as Ned Kelly aged 50 - by Clayton Tremlett, another Castlemaine Press founding member!
There are a couple of tapestries of Nolan paintings, which are particularly beautiful.

There is an exhibition catalogue that can be viewed in pdf available here.
I also went across the road to LaTrobe University's Visual Arts Centre, which almost always has interesting exhibitions. I was happy to chance upon an exhibition of Denise Green's work - an Australian artist based in New York. There are a couple of small paintings by her in the Heide collection, which I do admire, currently hanging in the laundry in Heide II.

These earlier works have the simple forms that Green has used for much of her career.  The one on the right has the fan form which she still uses extensively, somewhat modified in the painting below, in the current exhibition.The inspiration for the fan shape came from two 19th century Chinese artists, Ju Chao and Ju Lian, whose paintings were made in the form of fans and album leafs.

Whistling Winds (for Mondrian) 2011  acrylic and pencil on canvas 203 x 306 cm

There are two works that directly reference colour theory and utilize colour swatches. The signature fan shape is a consistent element across the multiple small panels.  There is something scientific about these two works, in the systematic arrangement of panels that relates both to colour theory and to mathematics. There are multiple influences cited in the catalogue, one of the most important being
Philip Fisher's book, Wonder, the Rainbow and the Aesthetics of Rare Experience, in which he discusses Descartes theories on the passions and emphasizes wonder as the primary philosophic experience.  He further relates wonder to the experience of the rainbow. So in these two works Green uses the fan shape to stand for the rainbow.
Nine Points 2010-2011 45 silkscreened paper collages on panels, overall dimensions 123.5 x 325.5 cm.

In the most recent works photographs of waterholes around the Bendigo region are spliced together with sections of unrelated abstract studio-based drawings.
Bendigo: Trees 2015 one photograph and five drawings 45.7 x 66 cm
As you can see, quite a diverse exhibition!

In the second, smaller space is a very beautiful and moving exhibition by Maree Santilla, Desiring the Undesirable. On moving to rural Victoria a few years ago Santilla was profoundly affected by the everyday sight of roadkill. She collected broken and fragile carcasses of foxes and other animals, bound them in ceramic bandages and fired them in a kiln, so several of the works include both a crumbling ceramic cast of the body and skeletal remains after the firing. These artefacts/relics are laid out within items of domestic furniture from the post war soldier settlement period.  Lighting and reflections are used to emphasise their fragility. Worth seeing if you can.  I should take photos, I know, but there is more information and some images here.