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

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

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.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Jackie Gorring @ The Light Factory Gallery in Eltham

Just a very quick post to share a couple of images from Jackie Gorring's exhibition Balkote - zing up life, which finishes this Sunday. Jackie is a printmaker who I first met six years ago at the 6th Australian Print Symposium at The National Gallery of Australia in Canberra. I ran into her again at a Print Council of Australia forum in Hobart a couple of years ago and discovered that she had moved from NSW to central Victoria.  I have been fascinated by her inventive low-tech printmaking methods, many of which utilise found material such as polystyrene, packaging and pipe cleaners as matrix.
This body of work was made during an artist residency at Ragini Art Village in Balkote, a few kilometres from Katmandu, late last year.
For more information
Zing up life relief print on canvas

Installation shot - Teeth over Katmandu and Spiralia spiralia, both relief prints on canvas

Watsup relief print on canvas


Wednesday, 13 March 2013


Just printed my edition of 5 x 7" linocut prints for the Leftovers IV print exchange.  Has to be posted by Friday.  Hoping it dries in time!
Some of the edition of Egyptian goddess cat (with Raoul Dufy stripes).
It relates to the series A Taxonomy of (Art History) cats on which I'm currently working. 
 This is a hybrid.

Thursday, 28 February 2013

My press is up and running!

I bought a second hand etching press two or three months ago but it's taken me all this time to clear a space to set it up to work in.  Finally there!!  There's barely enough room here, but works for the time being.

I have been working away slowly this year with not a great deal to show - cutting lino plates for my artist's book for BAO Edition 4, A girl waiting.  Now the press is up and running I've started printing them. These are some of the places the girl might be waiting.  The girl and her reason for waiting to come.

  I think I'm going to love having my own press!

Thursday, 10 January 2013

First post for the year!

When I've left it so long between posts, it becomes more and more difficult to do so.... Will I start with all my excuses...?  Not, this time.    So, I'll just wish all my bloggy friends a happy, productive and fulfilling 2013.
 Haven't made much progress on work to show you, although I have seen a few exhibitions about which I could have written. I enjoyed Elizabeth Banfield's solo exhibition at red gallery, and actually bought a print.  Very happy to have it!  Her work is very beautiful.
Also enjoyed BAZE at Handheld Gallery which has work by a number of you. The gallery reopens next Wednesday, so you could pop in if you are in Melbourne, and catch the end of this - a fabulous exhibition of zines and artist's books.
I should also mention the highlight of my recent exhibition viewing experiences.  I'm not sure whether I've mentioned before that I work in Visitor Services at Heide Museum of Modern Art.  I am so loving soaking up the fabulous Louise Bourgeois exhibitions - Late Works and Louise Bourgeois and Australian Artists - lots of fabric sculptures, fabric drawings, works on paper and the huge spider.  Perhaps because I'm a printmaker and artist who loves working with text, my favourite work is a suite of prints called What is the shape of this problem? -  nine diptychs, letterpress text panels paired with abstract lithographs, intense doodling/patterning (like I do when I'm on the phone).  'The telephone call from the slammer' is the panel that still makes me wobbly just to think about.  The first time I stood in front of the work I got very wobbly indeed!  It's intensely emotive, for me, and quite beautiful. Text fragments from 'The papillion, the ray of hope' and 'To unravel a torment you must begin somewhere' to 'The hour is devoted to revenge'...all very powerful and moving.  The exhibitions are highly recommended!
And just so as this post is not all text here are a couple of proofs of prints for my BAO book, which is very much a work in progress. I am making a book titled A girl waiting.  These are places that a girl might be waiting.... A tram stop in High Street, Northcote,
 the waiting room at Tamworth Station.

And outside Westgarth cinema, Northcote.

The girl and her reasons for waiting are to come.