Saturday, 24 November 2012

Work in progress - Cats!

Some hand-printed proofs of the beginnings of a body of work, A Taxonomy of Cats.
A lover of cats, I've noticed that there are a lot of images of cats in art. Here, the cats are taken out of their context and classified in a faux 'scientific' taxonomy - walking cats, curled, sleeping, sitting up tall or cleaning themselves.  Hunting cats are probably next.  I'm thinking of presenting them as a large educational/scientific poster.  This is one part of an exhibition I'm planning for next year...The Obsessions of  Woman of a Certain Age(!)  The other obsession is Leonard Cohen.  Going for a bit of alliteration...Cohen and Cats!!

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

An Inventory of Al-Mutanabbi Street - artist book project

A week or so ago I finally finished and posted off my contribution to the project - An Inventory of Al-Mutanabbi Street - a response to the bombing of Al-Mutanabbi Street - the street of the booksellers in Baghdad - on 5 March 2007. More information about the project can be seen here.

Bagdad reads * Fragments is a collection of linocut printed and typewritten text fragments taken from the history of Baghdad as a centre of learning, from Iraqi poetry and descriptions of the project, An Inventory of Al-Mutanabbi Street.  The words are printed on very light, somewhat transparent paper, suggesting the fragility of the situation for the booksellers of Al-Mutanabbi Street.  The red of the rather messy pastepaper cover also makes reference to the destruction of the bombings.
The first work on which I've used my recently-purchased excited to have a typewriter!

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Something I've been making...

It's been much longer than I'd planned since my last post, so I thought I put up a couple of images of something I've been making, as all the other projects I'm working on are still a week or so from having images to show.  So here are some cards I've made recently . Linocut prints on pages of my copy of Jane Eyre (which fell apart when I re-read it earlier this year) and musical score (bought from an Op shop).
and gelatin prints
The Vivienne Binns exhibition finished a week or so ago and I was very happy to have it reviewed by Robert Nelson in The Age/Sydney Morning Herald. You can read it here.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Vivienne Binns: Art and Life at LUMA

So the exhibition is up and running on its own now.  The opening went well - even though I had public speaking thrust upon me...and that was okay in the end.  I've given a couple of curator's talks and the catalogue is well received.  Now time to relax a little, or focus upon other things.  I'm really happy with it.
Here are a couple of photos from the opening, both taken by my friend, Brian Pieper.
Vivienne Binns speaking about her work, LUMA, July 2012

Vincent Alessi, Creative Director, LUMA and Vivienne Binns, exhibition opening Vivienne Binns: Art and Life.

In terms of my own art, I'm currently working on three projects - my book for the Inventory of Al-Mutanabbi Street, my edition for Book Art Object, working with the title A girl waiting and a project about cats from Art History - working title A Taxonomy of (Art) Cats.  Very soon I plan (Promise?) to post some images of proofs of something here!!

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Pay it Forward

This is really a quite belated post.  Back in April I responded to this post by Jac.

I couldn't have put it better.  She said,' One of the things I like about the web is the ability to make connections with people across the globe, the idea of being able to share ideas and techniques and to have a ‘conversation’ with like minded people whom I probably wouldn’t get the opportunity to meet in person'.

Like Jac, I like the idea of sharing not only tecniques, experiments, thoughts and images but also, on a small scale, pieces of ‘real’ work. Which is why I responded to the post.
A couple of days ago I received a very beautiful book called Weave, in the mail from Jac in England. There are images of the book on  her blog, but here is just one...

So now it's my turn to pay it forward.
If you want to join in, this is how it works.
If you leave a comment here I will send the first three people a small handmade gift via snail mail (and post links to those three bloggers). They will then put a post up about Pay It Forward (with a link back to my blog) and will also send on to three more people small  handmade gifts via snail mail etc.etc

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Vivienne Binns - Art and Life

It's been a VERY long time since I posted here...mainly because I've been focussing upon deadlines - in particular, an exhibition of Vivienne Binns' work I've curated at the LaTrobe University Museum of Art.
It's about the way in which aspects of Binns' personal life - her family, friends, relationships and exploration of self - have frequently been  the subject of her art, or influenced the direction of her research.   

 It's coming together and looking fabulous- opening next Tuesday night. I will be giving a curator's talk on Wedneday 11th July.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Fourfold at The Light Factory Gallery, Eltham

I've been to see an excellent print exhibition a week or so ago - Fourfold at The Light Factory Gallery in Eltham. A green-belt suburb on the outer-north of Mebourne, Eltham has a reputation and history as a hub of artisitic activity. While Montsalvat, the artist-community established by Justus Jorgensen in the 1930s, remains a thriving focus for the area, today there are  few other galleries in Eltham.  The Light Factory Gallery, though only a couple of years old, is embedded in Eltham's history as the building was designed by Alistair Knox.  It's quite a beautiful building and makes a wonderful gallery with banks of windows up at roof-level that fill the space with light.
The current exhibition is called Fourfold, an exhibition of four printmakers. Kate Hudson, Clare Humphries, Violeta Capovska and Georgia Thorpe all work in relief printmaking, but with a great diversity in style and aesthetic.  Hudson's black and white linocut prints of floral still-lifes recall the work of Margaret Preston with their crisp lines, patterning and  stylisation of forms.  Preston hand coloured her flowers after printing in black, while Hudson offers both simple black and white and multi-coloured examples using the reduction technique.   In other works pairs of birds set within a network of foliage are similarly decorative - and I don't consider that a perjorative term at all!  See some of her works from the exhibition here.
Clare Humphries' linocut prints offer simple objects which emerge from a dark ground.  Central to her current practice is the idea  that objects, often quite simple objects, that belonged to deceasd loved ones may hold some essence or tactile memory of their owners.  Her process is time consuming and exacting, involving creating a reduction linoprint of an object such as a handkerchief or a thimble, overprinting it with layers of black ink and then hand burnishing so that the object re-emerges from the darkness.  Content and process are inextricably linked; the objects lost beneath the surface of the ink, but recovered (as a memory?) through the laborious process of burnishing.
Examples of the works in this exhibition can be seen here.
Violeta Capovska's large-scale images of flowers, tightly framed, reminiscent of some of Georgia O'Keefe's paintings are printed in severeal shades of violet, suggesting highly enlarged magazine photographs. I read that her work explores cultural approaches towards the female body and this would also suggest a connection to the work of Georgia O'Keefe. Some of Capovska's work can be seen here. 
Georgia Thorpe

 I was perhaps most attracted to Georgia Thorpe's work - large prints, richly coloured, layered,  textured, and artist's books printed on soft mulberry paper.   The main compositional elements of the  prints are woodcuts, with layers of intaglio texture, and hand colouring added. As this method of working might suggest, Thorpe does not generally produce editions of prints, but rather series of ‘unique states.’  She also showed a groups of fascinating altered books - quite old stab-bound Japanese script books, a couple of which contained the libretto (perhaps not quite the correct term) for Noh play - an ancient Japanese masked theatre combining drama, music and dance.  The books are quite beautiful and fascinating objects in themselves.  Thorpe has inserted her prints of knots and dipped the books in dark dyes, adding to their mystery.Some of her work can be seen here.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Compact Prints

Had a productive day on Friday, making my work for the Compact Print exhibition at Umbrella Studios, Townsville. Prints have to be 12 x 12 cm as they are exhibited in CD cases.  I like that idea!
The linocut is from a drawing I made some years ago of slightly disturbing doll  (or is it the drawing that's disturbing, not the doll itself?) and is printed over a stencilled gelatin they are all a little different.  I quite like the the fact that the stencil is out of register in most of the it will be quite a loose edition.  I printed the linocut by hand using a plastic baren that I recently bought at Melbourne Etching Supplies.
I think it is called Doppelganger Doll.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Print exhibitions worth seeing in Melbourne

In the last couple of days I've seen a couple of print exhibitions well worth recommending. On Thursday night I dropped into Handheld Gallery for the opening of Janet Neilson's Close to Home.  Handheld is one of my favourite spaces in Melbourne. Run by the lovely Megan Herring and her partner Adrian, it's tiny and focuses on artist's books and small objects.  (I feel really I typed that, trying to think of Megan's surname, I've only just realised why she publishes her own books under Little Red Fishy...Herring!)  The concept of the exhibition is that the artist doesn't have to go far from home for sources of inspiration/subject matter.  The works are mostly books or book-like objects, including two small series that recycle books, with pages intricately cut with the tracery of bare trees. Trees are also rendered in strong, graphic linocut prints and moodier collographs.  I particularly enjoyed the concertina book - inspired by the weaving of one of Neilson's neighbours - of collographs and woven paper elements. The folded 'flat-pack' linocut prints of cheeky magpies are also pretty gorgeous. Can't resist a magpie! See a couple of tiny prints by another lover of magpies here.
and images of the exhibition at the Handheld Gallery blog
And then on Friday I wandered about in the beautiful Melbourne Autumn sun and got to Port Jackson Press to  see  Groundwork, an exhibition of prints by Belinda Fox, whose work I've long admired, and collaborative works by Diana Orinda Burns, Robyn Gibson and Kir Larwill, three printmakers from around Castlemaine in central Victoria. The large-scale multi-panel collaborative works are fabulous, with simple motifs, a boat and a chicken(?) wishbone, repeated over a minimal woodcut surface - layered to created a rich surface, with strong, spare imagery.
See images at
Dropped into 69 Smith Street as a couple of etchings by Keiko Murakami caught my eye. Her exhibition, in the front gallery is called Hanga which is apparently the Japanese word for print. She must be one of the most active printmakers around!  She seems to have solo exhibitions every couple of months.  I really like the works based upon the natural world, particularly the amusingly titled Just hanging out in Melbourne, with lots of fruit bats hanging in a tree, with the dome of the Exhibition Buildings in the background.  You can see it here,
Lastly, I went to No Vacancy Gallery at the QV Centre to see the Asia Pacific Mini Print exhibition.  There are 4 small prints by each of 53 artists, so there is a lot to see. There's a good range of work, from 17 countries, of a very high standard, as, I think it's an open entry exhibition. There are five prizewinners, with a very decent prize pool of $25,000.  Mezzotints did pretty well, although prizes also went to works in other media.  I was very impressd with the hang - must have been quite a task to hang over 200 works.  My only criticism is that there is no listing of the printaking techniques used. 

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Travelling to see art

Part of the reason that I haven't posted for a while is that I've been off travelling to see art!  I've had a couple of weeks off work and did a little tour of NSW - flying to Newcastle, bussing to Port Macquarie, where I stayed wuith my friend, George, for a couple of days, then we drove to Armidale; I took the train to Tamworth - for the main purpose of my trip, to see the fabulous GW Bot, 30 year retrospective, The Long Paddock, then I took the train to Sydney where I spent the day at the AGNSW, ejoying the Picasso and the Kaldor Collection in new contemporary galleries.  I had a lovely time!
Besides Sydney, I'd never been to any of these places before.
I would have liked to spend longer in Newcastle. Enjoyed the walk along the harbour/wharf and out along the breakwater.

   In my short time there I also found the Newcastle Art Gallery where I saw Leaving a Legacy, Margaret Olley's gifts to Newcastle, and Shay Docking - Works from the Newcastle Collection.  They are both well worth a look.  Of the Shay Docking works, I was particularly impressed by those from the 1960s.
Margaret Olley's donation was quite diverse; mostly paintings - from a 1960s Carl Plate abstract work to Ben Quilty's very loose expressionist portraits of Adam Cullen from 2006.  I was particularly attracted to Elisabeth Kruger's lush Taffeta - a large-scale detail of two white roses, reminiscent of Georgia O'Keefe in its tight framing, but with more emphasis upon luxuriance and texture, and Kevin Lincoln's pared down still life, Grey Jug 1999.
Kevin Lincoln Grey Jug 1999 oil on canvas Newcastle Art Gallery, Gift of the Margaret Olley Art Trust 1999
 I was very interested to see three examples of Cressida Campbell's work.  I confess, I'm not sure that I see the point of her process - cutting a woodcut plate, then painting/inking(?) the plate to take a single print impression.  Olley's gift included two such prints and also a painted plate, or a plate retaining the paint after the single  print was pulled.  I was most interested in the plate.  It reminded me of learning in Art History of the  Spanish wooden sculptures that were originally brightly coloured (polychromed - that we would now perhaps see as gaudy.)  
Spent a couple of days in Port Macquarie, enjoying the beaches and the rainforest walk at Sea Acres National Park.

One evening we went for a cruise on the river, where I was pretty excited to see some dolphins.  They were too quick for me to catch on film, but here's the last of the sun on the water.

We spent a long but very pleasant day driving from Port Macquarie to Armidale, along the Waterfall Way, stopping at Bellingen for lunch, as well as three of the falls for which the Way is named!
The modest Newell Falls,

The very spectacular Ebor Falls, with a series of drops, the first image being the upper section, the second the lower.

 and finally Dangar Falls.  I wondered if they had been named for the family of Anne Dangar, a contemporary and great friend of Gace Crowley, who spent most of her life working at Moly-Sabata in France.

We walked out on the Skywalk at Dorrigo National Park.  Shorter than I expected but very high with fabulous views over the valley. Next post, I'll get to the art!

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Nude as wallpaper - Sample Book from 2011

Goodness! Where did January go?
I was going to post images of the book I was making for the Linden Postcard Show...but time became very tight.  I started sewing the book at 2pm on the day it had to be delivered (across the other side of the city) by 5pm.  Fortunately it was a small book, coptic bound with only 12 or so signatures.  It didn;t take too long, although I had trouble getting the second cover on firmly.  It was a little looser than it should have been...but otherwise, I was very happy with the book.  If I had been thinking I could have taken a couple of pictures when I arrived...before I handed it over...I had about 30minutes to spare, as it turned out. Oh well! Hopefully I can put something up later.
But as I don't have any images of the book (called Counting Crows...or Magpies), I'll share some images of a book from a few months ago, Nude as Wallpaper - Sample Book. Nudes from Art History (some more recognizable than others) are simplified (some more than others) and printed over text from Kenneth Clark's opening paragraph from his book, The Nude.  It's side-bound with a hinged cover - like a wallpaper sample book!

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Happy New Year!...and new book projects for 2012

Happy New Year to all!  I hope that 2012 will be a happy and productive one.  I've started the year very excited about being involved in Edition Four of Book Art Object. More than fifty artists have signed up to make an edition on ten books inspired by one of the 100 short story titles from Sarah Bodman's project- An Exercise for Kurt Johannessen.You can find information about it here. Artists have been allocated to groups of eight and each will take one of the titles to create an edition of artists book that will then be exchanged with other members of the group.  The title I'll be working with is A girl waiting.  No idea what I'm going to  do yet, but it suggests lots of possiblities, I think. 

I've had a couple of days off this week and so I've been able to make a start on an artist's book for the Linden postcard show.  It's to be called Counting Crows...or Magpies, and is based on the counting rhyme...One for sorrow, two for joy.  There are a number of variations... still have to decide which I'm going with.  These are gelatin prints I've been making as a first layer.  Hand-cut stamps of birds and text, as well as  collaged elements to come.  Here is a positive and the negative print of the same stencils.

When making the gelatin plate I lined the scone-tray with clingwrap so that the gelatin would be easy to remove and love the printed effect of the wrinkled surface.  

Layering is always an experiment.  Never really know whether it will work or ruin what you already have!