Weekly roundup 23 October 2016

A busy week! Short of time, so unfortunately once again short on reflection.

This week I started a six week drawing for beginners class at Sydney Community College, taught by Matthew Rogers. We started by drawing the contours of our hand in 2B pencil – working very slowly. The eye moves around the object, almost with a sense of touch, and the hand and pencil work with the eye. We went through a series of exercises, in pencil and charcoal. Ideas I want to remember – pencil grip, relationships, ways of checking, choose subjects that interest you, most importantly don’t commit too quickly. And practice.

I’ve been trying to take all of this to heart, and am finding it enjoyable and absorbing. Some examples, first from class:

A mix from home, on the bus etc. It’s eating into my reading time, but that can re-balance later.

Preparing for welded sculpture
A shopping expedition has equipped me with steel-capped shoes, welding helmet, gauntlets… and a box of mixed mild steel (I hope!) oddments picked up from the floor and waste bins of a friendly steel supplier. Most of this will sit quietly in a corner until the class in January, but my husband made the very clever suggestion of using the oddments as drawing models. The first appearance of some is included above and I think it’s a great way to start thinking about relationships and possibilities.

Associated with the current Art of parts: collage and assemblage from the collection exhibition, AGNSW held a drop in and collage activity. The Sydney Collage Society (SCS) ran the event. Member Kubi Vasak made some brief but helpful opening remarks suggesting approaches. Landscape collage: an example showed a cool mountain lake scene, overlaid by a sunny and bright swimming pool – with the key detail that the ripples of water in each image were aligned. Working with a key image: find something that really takes your eye, then look for material that relates to it. Abstract and/or surreal: covers a lot, but one example is to choose two colours, find suitable images then build with them, perhaps into a fanciful flower. He encouraged us not to overthink, to act on instinct.

It made collage seem more approachable, less intimidating and intellectual.

SCS had provided piles of books and magazines with some great images. Unfortunately the scissors were stiff and awkward. After a great conversation with a society member about the relative merits of small scissors and varieties of scalpels I had to hurry off to the evening lecture. So my almost cut-out iconic image of Audrey Hepburn is still waiting for a suitable new environment and cigarette substitute. Next week…

Craig Judd Collector Dreamers: Kojiro Matsukata, Koyoma Mihoko (part of the AGNSW Collectors & Collections series).
An interesting reflection on the motives of collecting, vagaries of history, and cross-cultural influences.

Dr Jaime Tsai Peggy Guggenheim and the Surrealists (part of the AGNSW Collectors & Collections series).
Collector, patron, philanthropist – different roles all found in Peggy Guggenheim. At times this lecture felt like a listing of all the big names of surrealism and abstract expressionism – which just shows the influential and important role Guggenheim played in post-war avant-gardism. Tsai presented her as a woman with a sense of responsibility, vision and courage. Impossible to know how different the history of 20th century art would have been without her support.

In an aside Tsai briefly explained the technique grottage (not frottage) – something I’d like to try.

Museum of Sydney
This was my first visit to the Museum of Sydney. Interesting stories and artifacts from local (mainly post “discovery” and invasion) history, however our main focus was two exhibitions: Florilegium: Sydney’s painted garden, and The artist & the botanical collector: The lost works of Lovegrove & BĂ€uerlen. Some very beautiful images, but I sometimes feel almost claustrophobic looking at such very precise and careful work. A huge amount of skill on display, as well as scientific knowledge and incredible observation. Not something I would personally aspire to.

Artisans in the Gardens
A diverse range of works was shown in this exhibition and sale held in the Royal Botanic Gardens. Work by two artists in particular caught my eye.

Nicole de Mestre showed a range of assemblages. Quirky, lots of personality, all recycled and found materials.

Brooke Munro‘s work included sculptural forms in random weave and coiling.

Clearly the work of both artists is relevant to the area(s) of interest that I have identified. Almost as clearly I’m not going to be able to research, consider and make sensible comments at 10 pm on Sunday night.

More investigation required, but as it happens I visited this exhibition after arriving at the Gardens a little early for a workshop with tutor Brooke Munro so the story continues with…

Cord Making, knotless netting & bag making workshop
To an extent this 3 hour workshop with Brooke Munro covered techniques I’ve experimented with before, however I’ve often found that “known” material can be deepened and even transformed with a new perspective and presentation. Different materials, weights of material, “slight” changes in the looping, and the result is entirely different.

knotless_nettingMy cord went missing during the class – and I didn’t go searching as I have no affinity with damp swamp-smelling vegetable matter. For the looping those who chose to “cheated” using pre-made cord. There’s a strange deformation in my sample – possibly I added some twist to the cord as I was working, or there could be some bias in the looping itself.

More experimentation required.

aftermath - Jonathan Jones barrangal dyara (skin and bones)

aftermath – Jonathan Jones barrangal dyara (skin and bones)

While walking back through the Gardens I came across the aftermath of Jonathan Jones’s recent exhibition (25-Sep-2016). What deep and meaningful comment sits here?

2 weekly roundup 16 October 2016


Last weekend my mother and I flew to Adelaide for a few days. Our main focus was visiting places related to Hans Heysen, an Australian painter of the early to mid 20th century who really captured the light and space of the landscape, in particular gum trees.

The afternoon of the flight was spent at the Art Gallery of South Australia. The next day we drove down to ‘The Cedars’ near Hahndorf, Heysen’s home for over 50 years.

Hans Heysen's studio, The Cedars

Hans Heysen’s studio, The Cedars

Heysen loved the trees – he termed his paintings their portraits – and a committed conservationist. The property, including home, studio and trees, has stayed in the family and remains a beautiful, peaceful backwater. The purpose-built studio sits up the hill from the residence, far enough away for some space from a large and busy household.

It was interesting to see the management of light in the studio. The south-facing back wall is almost filled by windows, all frosted. This was virtually the only source of light. Inside the studio you are almost entirely closed away from that beautiful landscape. Heysen would paint with the light coming over his shoulder, flooding the canvas.

He also worked en plein air, but many major works were done in the studio, based on sketches and studies, enlarged using a grid system. We saw a series of sketches – some very sketchy! – investigating form and values as part of developing a composition. Heysen was also very careful about the framing of his works, often painting framing lines on the mountboard to harmonise with and enhance the works.

Nora Heysen, one of Hans Heysen’s daughters, worked mainly with portraits and flowers.

Carrick Hill dining room

Carrick Hill dining room

On our second full day we visited Carrick Hill. The house was built by a wealthy Adelaide couple in the 1930s, designed around seventeenth and eighteenth-century panelling, doors, staircase etc from a demolition sale of a Tudor mansion in Staffordshire. As well as the timbers, the house was fitted with all the latest 1930s technology, including a lavish ensuite bathroom and a wetbar integrated behind the paneling of the library.

The Haywards then filled their home with an eclectic mix of art – in the photograph can be seen Matthew Smith’s Nude with pearl necklace (1931). They were very active in the Adelaide art community and were friends with the Heysens. For many years Hans Heysen and Ursula Hayward served together on the Board of the Art Gallery on South Australia.

The house, its contents and the extensive gardens were bequeathed by the Haywards to the people of South Australia. The house, the grounds and the cafe are all well worth a visit – by car. Mum and I took the bus, and the long walk up to the house, through the rooms and to the current special exhibition (Stanley Spencer) and then around the gardens was a bit much. I was trying to call a taxi when my 88 year old mum used the simple expedient of walking up to a young family in the car-park and asking for a lift to the bus-stop. In the end they insisted on going completely out of their way, taking us right back into central Adelaide to our accommodation. So if you know a couple with a young daughter, recently arrived from Cardiff for a year in Adelaide, please thank them again from us.

Our final morning took in a local market, then the Ediacaran fossils at the South Australian Museum. More mum’s field than mine, but certainly beautiful and intriguing.

Helen Campbell, the curator of Art of parts: collage and assemblage from the collection at AGNSW, gave a floor talk in the exhibition. Some quick notes:

  • Collage important to modern art as it blurred boundaries between drawing, painting and sculpture. My thought – a link between folk and high art as well??
  • Transformation – from found/fabricated to part of works of art
  • Power of objects to communicate directly to viewer
  • For Robert Klippel sculpture and collage were symbiotic. Note to self – more to research!
  • Could combine aesthetic arrangement with the highly evocative, for example Rosalie Gascoigne
  • Over the time since I’ve been working on a collage based on my 2nd October notes on Elwyn Lyn, his “clues” of themes, and my sketching at the Queen Victoria Building bus-stop. I’ve tried many slight variations, taking photos to “see” them, little pieces of sketching, then rather annoyingly wasn’t accurate in placement when doing the gluing.

    QVB bus Collage 20161016

    QVB bus
    Collage 20161016

    The base is hand-made denim paper, gifted to me by Claire (see tactualtextiles.wordpress.com/2016/08/20/making-denim-paper-stage-2/ for more on her process).

    The photo’s not helping, but it doesn’t look too much better in real life. I’ll need some space and time to think about what’s not working.

    My second day with Basketry NSW this week. You’re meant to take a project to work on. Under pressure, I came up with an idea about a spiky basket.

    The materials came from my stash, anonymous, but the consensus on the day was the fine fibres were monofilament nylon.

    More experimentation with coiling, using a new-to-me stitch and first experience with multiple strands in the coil. Lots of technical flaws, some of which I can see, some I’ll probably see in the future when I know more. Still, it’s pretty close to my idea and it makes me smile🙂

    There was a Collections lecture this week, but it’s getting late so I’ll roll that over.

    Weekly roundup 2 October 2016

    Last week (25-Sep-2016) I showed the mono-printed papers, produced with inspiration and kangaroo grass from barrangal dyara (skin and bones). Musing on the bus to work I played with a collage idea based first on circles (the circular garden) which developed into gathering around a fire pit or bonfire.

    While working on the collage later I was aware of the difference this preparation made to the experience, to what I was thinking and doing. There were still choices and decisions, but also a sense of certainty and purpose.

    collage 20160929

    collage 20160929

    collage detail

    collage detail

    The result is … alright.
    My design ended with lots of discrete elements, which looked like little islands. I drew back in it with a fine tip felt pen in a crazy paving way, which helped linking things up. Although there’s a lot of visual texture the final result is very flat. Flat matte paper glued flat onto flat matte paper. I intended a brightness in value emanating from the “fire” and darkening outwards which didn’t work. Some additional shading might help. I’ve also thought about using a candle to burn through some places and smoke smudge others, but would need to do some clearing up to cover the risk assessment on that.

    I think the next move is actual texture and shadows.

    Elwyn Lynn
    Research on Elwyn (Jack) Lynn is ongoing, but given my comment above about texture I want to show two works in the current Art of Parts exhibition at AGNSW (link). Sorry about the poor photos – lots of reflection problems.

    This is a collage of canvas, postcard, commercial and handmade paper fragments, acrylic, aluminium paint and wax on paper.

    There’s no deep relief, no cast shadows, but an array of quiet textures. It seems abstract, but then you look at the title and start finding clues – the postcard fragment shows a wooden wharf, water, sailing boats. The wax flows down like water. Is that high black stripe a bridge, the speckled paper a sandy beach? So much seems to be made with a few, simple means.

    Another collage – brown wrapping paper, envelope, handmade paper, German travel ticket and poster fragements, wax bottle top seal, fibres, acrylic paint, wax on paper. Again the title is a clue, and again there’s a collaged picture of the subject. This time the texture is deeper, especially what looks like the ends of thick cord, almost rope. That high horizon seems to have a ship sailing out of frame. It seems to be about travel, about parcels and letters sent home, distance and ties.

    The materials used are commonplace and evocative. They have a past, a story. Shapes are simple. The works aren’t lively, but they aren’t static. They feel restrained – simplicity that is deceptive, that makes you work at piecing it together. They aren’t just an interesting arrangement of a selection of materials.

    Subjects and courses
    The above topics feed into this, but first some brief background – investigation of study options continues. The OCA textiles pathway doesn’t seem to fit me – in fact I feel suffocated just thinking about it. The OCA Sculpture 1 course however – that looks exciting and difficult and terrifying and … back to exciting. One thing I like is that it is unapologetically about three-dimensional art and developing your independence. It doesn’t ask you to design a teapot or a birdhouse. It doesn’t give you a list of themes to choose from. Project 1 (available in the course sample at http://www.oca.ac.uk/courses/sculpture-courses/sculpture-1-starting-out-in-3d/) starts out “Find a subject that you’d like to use for this project. Bring together a composition, group, collection of objects/forms that interests you …” It assumes that you have enough nous to be interested in something, to have a subject you’d like to explore.

    Obvious next question – whether or not I go on to do the course, do I have a subject of interest ready to hand? I’ve got my plan of work (15-Sep-2016), full of techniques and approaches – but a subject?? Some more on-the-bus musing, and yes, I think I do.

    Expressing a sense of place (and time). Catching a moment.

    I felt it last week at barrangal dyara (skin and bones) – an exhibition that could only ever be at that place. When I “wrapped space”, documenting the shadows falling at a particular place and time of year (31-Jul-2015) At the top of Sydney Harbour Bridge – surrounded, enveloped in Sydney. On the Maid of the Mist below Niagara Falls.

    Can I get and express that feeling, not on a grand scale but in a meaningful everyday way? My early collage research included nouveau réalisme, using torn posters that were in a particular place for a brief period, that showed the rub and grime of being a part of life (22-Sep-2016). Something along those lines. Could be quite abstract and the source not apparent to anyone else.

    I’d actually reached that stage of thinking before looking carefully at Lynn’s work, so it was like a gong sounding in my head when I saw that.

    So a new experiment / process.

  • Take my A6 sketchbook and a drawing implement
  • Sit somewhere. I’m thinking generally the city
  • Draw and jot notes – shapes, light, colour, movement
  • Develop the jottings into components, raw materials for collage. This point is another from the OCA Sculpture 1 course, which advises collecting a diverse range of materials, more than you expect to use, so you have choices and alternatives to decide between – all to make the actual sculptural process easier.
  • Use in collage.
  • A start:

    I seem to come up with lots of schemes, some of which settle in (like the weekly roundup), some of which soon silently vanish. Time will tell.

    Basketry project



    Printed mulberry paper

    Printed mulberry paper

    This project started with printed mulberry paper (4-Sep-2016) and some coiling of cut strips (11-Sep-2016).

    There was also some joomchi to create a single lacey layer, which although successful didn’t photograph well and wasn’t used in the final object.
    It stands 10 or 11 cm high. Some (most?) of the mis-shaping is deliberate. There is an intentional gradation in colour value up the object, managed by which side of the printed paper was showing as I made the cord. The open area at the top was meant to be lined with the lacey single layer felted paper, but it didn’t fit with the sturdy liveliness of the much heavier cord.

    Sample p3-47

    Sample p3-47

    I’m wondering about “growing” basketry from something. … Looking around I noticed the box of MMT assessment samples, back this week from OCA.
    Say take p3-47 (26-Sep-2015), drill some holes through it, and weave up from it. Could that add to or transform it somehow? More thinking required.

    Tom Bass Annual Studio Exhibition
    This exhibition by students at the Tom Bass studio included works from the intro class on. Some of the works that caught my eye:

    No detailed analysis, but it’s interesting to note that apart from one work (which is by a friend), all of them are reminiscent of the human body, without being too precise.

    Exhibition: Tracey Deep Shadow Poem

    Tracey Deep Moon river

    Tracey Deep
    Moon river

    The opening of this exhibition last weekend at Sturt Gallery was warm, friendly, beautiful. Sunshine on spring gardens, the large light gallery space full of texture and movement, a particularly relaxed and friendly crowd, works inviting, intriguing, rewarding our attention and thought.

    Tracey Deep and Slavica Zivkovic (gallery manager) in front of Shadow song

    Tracey Deep and Slavica Zivkovic (gallery manager) in front of Shadow song

    Tracey Deep’s background is in floral sculpture and installation. That sensibility is still seen in her eye and the shapes she creates as well as some of her materials, but here she has created less ephemeral but still organic, lively and often visually, if not physically, fragile pieces.

    Tracey Deep Exhibition view

    Tracey Deep
    Exhibition view

    The exhibition was opened by Robin Powell, garden columnist. I particularly appreciated her talk as she really did introduce the artist and her work – both new to me. Robin spoke of the way Tracey is able to show us the world, the garden, with new eyes. There is a sense of surprise, of discovery.

    Tracey Deep Wind spirit

    Tracey Deep
    Wind spirit

    Tracey Deep Wind spirit (detail)

    Tracey Deep Wind spirit (detail)

    Tracey gives new life, a double life, to what has outlived its first. Before the opening formalities I had looked carefully at Wind Spirit, admired the liveliness of the lines, what looked like barbed wire but was actually a mass of very carefully wound and finished ends, rusty metal tendrils in a wreath.

    How could I have missed the (not so) unmistakeable coils of bed springs?

    Tracey Deep Wisdom

    Tracey Deep

    Not all the materials were so hard to identify – Wisdom, here on a plinth but with potential for wall display, undulates over its base of bra underwires. Other raw materials included an outdoor chair, beaded seat rest, frayed ghost net. Tracey was very friendly, happy to chat with us (I was with Claire of Tactual Textiles), and she confirmed she is always looking, alert to found materials with potential.

    Tracey Deep Moonscape

    Tracey Deep

    As the exhibition title suggests, shadow is a significant concern of the artist. Light falls on and through the works, layered, like shadows in nature. Robin Powell suggested shadows are the spirit of Tracey’s work. The ample light in the gallery, both natural and artificial, made the most of this feature.

    Tracey Deep Shadow spirit

    Tracey Deep
    Shadow spirit

    There was a real sense of unity and yet diversity in the works on display. I particularly like the way Tracey revisited ideas in different materials and scales. For example Shadow Spirit used quite a wide wire mesh, formed into a shape, in this case an open-topped box or vessel, and then interlaced with a feathery string. Those light laces created movement, defined the space contained without hiding it, gave an air of fragility.

    Tracey Deep Sacred Spirit

    Tracey Deep
    Sacred Spirit

    Visually similar materials at a smaller scale were used to create a series of pouches or bags, Sacred Spirit. That pouch shape was also seen in Bush Spirit, back in a mid-scale and in wooden beads.

    Tracey Deep Moon shadow (detail)

    Tracey Deep
    Moon shadow (detail)

    The idea of open metal frame interlaced with feathery yarn was used again at large scale in Moon shadow (seen in the background of the exhibition view photograph above). This work formed a deep relief on the wall, with complex layers and once again those ever-present, ephemeral, shadows.

    I found so much to admire, to learn from, in this artist and her work. With my upcoming (in a few months) welded sculpture workshop I am very excited about the possibilities in combining metal forms and textile elements. Many of the pieces used textile techniques, particularly weaving (one example among many Tree Spirit) and wrapping – Woodwind II would make a great case study for one of the Mixed Media for Textiles assignments.

    However I think more important is the approach – Tracey Deep’s work displays great care and attention to detail, thoughtfulness laced through with humour and joy.

    The exhibition is on until 13 November, a rewarding destination for a springtime drive.

    Weekly roundup 25 September 2016

    Lecture: Glenn Barkley The Laverty and Ann Lewis Collections (part of the AGNSW Collectors & Collections series).
    This was a heart-felt and very personal lecture, as much about people and relationships as the art. Some staggering images of homes filled with mainly Australian art. Glenn Barkley’s musings as a curator about the combinations of works were particularly fascinating.

    Exhibition: Jonathan Jones barrangal dyara (skin and bones)
    This Kaldor public art program provides an amazing and varied experience. It’s impossible to sum up, I don’t have words – yet language is one of the most moving parts.

    Jonathan Jones has reminded Sydney of its history – the 19th century Garden Palace building in our Royal Botanic Garden, built to house the Sydney International Exhibition in 1879, burnt to the ground in just a few hours in 1882. Among the losses was a huge collection of indigenous artifacts as well as early records of European Australians.

    jonathanjones_01Jones has recreated the physical footprint of the building. Aerial photographs here show the massive scale of the project. At the heart of the space, where the dome once soared, is a circular garden now planted with kangaroo grass. A soundscape suggests the grinding of seeds into flour, voices of women teaching children, then a whoosh of fire. Most of the artifacts lost were related to men, presenting an image of savages overcome. Here women are the core of the community, peoples who cultivated land, made bread, used controlled fire as a means of rebirth of plant-life.

    jonathanjones_02The perimeter of the building is marked by thousands of white shields. Made of gypsum they suggest ceremony as well as war. There are a variety of shapes, reflecting many clans, but they don’t have individual markings.

    jonathanjones_03I particularly liked areas where the shields had grass growing up around them, and where they balanced at all angles on enormous tree roots, becoming an integral part of the land. It was such a powerful statement of place – this exhibition could only ever be here. There was also a powerful sense of being welcomed – by the elders of the Gadigal clan to Gadigal land, Aboriginal land, and also by the many invigilators and volunteers, some of whom share that heritage.

    jonathanjones_04With one young man with a personal connection we discussed the importance of language. He was so proud and happy to share with us. There are eight soundscapes within the area, and Jones collaborated with various language groups, contemporary Aboriginal voices in the landscape.

    There is an extensive range of talks and events included in the project. The breadth and depth of thought and attention is impressive. Also impressive is the positive vision shared. While traumatic, the devastating fire can be seen as a cultural burn, cleansing, providing space for regeneration of a more complex, inclusive culture.

    Other art I’ve been seeing lately I’ve ended by looking for learning for my own work. This event is so far beyond that. My lesson is not to always analyse, glean, plan, take inspiration. Experience, feel, live.

    Practical project

    Kangaroo grass

    Kangaroo grass

    Early reading and experiment with collage was recorded 22-Sept-2016. I planned a mono-printing session, building a collection of related patterned papers for future collage use.

    While exploring barrangal dyara (skin and bones) I collected some pieces of dried kangaroo grass that had fallen on the path, thinking they could be used in the printing.

    Knotless net

    Knotless net

    Thinking of the dilly-bags that might have been used to collect seed heads, I wanted to try knotless netting again as another texturing device for mono-printing. The net would have to be quite open to ensure the pattern printed and didn’t create a total resist. It would also need to be flat. A recent experiment with that didn’t go so well (11-Sep-2016). This time, rather than trying to modify the stitch to go backwards and forwards across the work I attached the centre of a new length of thread every second row and worked in my natural left-to-right direction for every row. The ends of the thread were worked into a thick braid down the right-hand side, although perhaps in a future attempt I will try creating a fringe. I used a commercial waxed linen thread, which is very obedient and easy to use.

    monoprint_20160924_01Mono-printing, all sorts of oddments of paper were used – paper bags, tissue, coloured card, various weights… I used the gelatin plate, akua pigments, the kangaroo grass, netting, a couple of texturing things. Ink colours were lamp black, red oxide and burnt umber – they seemed to fit with the fire and earth of the Garden Palace.

    The prints are still drying, but the next and very big question is will I be able to make sense of it all in a collage???

    A few closeups:

    Reading: Laura Breede “ArchiTextile: Clothed walls from the middle ages to today” In Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg Art & Textiles: Fabric as material and concept in modern art from Klimt to the present Art & Textiles Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz Verlag.

    There is reference to Gottfried Semper in 1860, placing textile art as a primeval art, a source for all other arts. Yurts, tapestry wall coverings, curtain walls of glass.

    Most of the modern examples are use by artists of Jacquard weaving. I always have trouble with this – what does weaving bring to the artwork beyond the original source painting or photograph? Here at least part appears to be the deception or surprise at close examination. Still, I want textiles to have some unique edge or reason, not just a double-take by the viewer. It shouldn’t be a simple translation – and from the photos it’s hard to tell what transformation the weave ha provided.

    Collage: Not mine. Some wonderful examples of digital collage with a surreal edge at https://lemanshots.wordpress.com/.

    Finally I went to the opening of another exhibition today, Tracey Deep’s Shadow Poem at Sturt Gallery. A wonderful exhibition and experience which needs its own post.


    Collage. The very word makes me nervously check my fingers for stickiness.

    Some initial reading and investigation has broadened my understanding of the widely varying ends supported by collage and assemblage.

    A whole range of materials, real world elements – fabric, paper, bits of ephemera – all arranged and glued on a surface. The potential for invention. Transforming. Tension of previous and changed states.

    Mary Delany Poinciana Pulcherrima (Decandria Monogynia) © Trustees of the British Museum

    Mary Delany
    Poinciana Pulcherrima (Decandria Monogynia)
    © Trustees of the British Museum

    Examples known from 12th century Japan, crafts and folk arts, the garden of Mary Delaney (see 28-Aug-2016).

  • Used by cubists to emphasise the flatness of the surface. Incongruity – serious art using folk art technique. Breaking boundaries.
  • Picasso, Braque, Juan Gris.
    Eric Wilson.
    What would it be like to play with a non-flat supporting surface – corrugated cardboard or an apple tray?

  • Dada – absurd, satirical
  • Kurt Schwitters
    Raoul Hausmann

  • Surrealists – a strange new reality. Chance, juxtaposition, unfamiliar
  • Max Ernst, Roland Penrose
    James Gleeson
    Sidney Nolan, quilted engravings

  • Pop art – exploring imagery of popular culture, parody
  • Eduardo Paolozzi, Richard Hamilton (note later digital work)

  • nouveau rĂ©alisme – torn poster technique. Layers. Compositional unity. Capturing a place and time. Typography. Of the street. Spontaneous. Link to readymades. Anonymous public expression (in tearing of posters). Implicitly political.
  • Jacques MahĂ© de la VilleglĂ©, Raymond Hains, François DufrĂȘne, Arman, Yves Klein, Jean Tinguely

  • Contemporary. Approaches include altering to challenge assumptions of viewer; a formal exploration; political.
  • Formal exploration:
    David Aspden. Colour and shape arrangements. Use of torn edge – three dimensional quality.
    Rosalie Gascoigne (assemblages). Imaginative associations, evocative.

    Spiritual realm:
    Rose Nolan, Eugene Carchesio

    Political themes:
    Katherine Hattam (autobiographical, feminist), Tony Albert

    Layla Curtis

    Barry Martin Movement Collage (1965) Representations of movement – selection of images, orientation and placement circling the centre, torn edges, angles all build speed and motion, sculptural potential of the surface. links to pop art and nouveau rĂ©alisme.

    Nigel Henderson http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/henderson-collage-t01915. Really drawn to this work, and to the explanation of the artist’s process and ideas in the full catalogue entry. Scrutinising or looking into something that has caught his attention, disturbed him. Building up fields of interesting visual data from which you may assemble later. Enlarging, stacking, linking up lines in oil paint… Fits with my intention of creating base materials with printing, but with additional depth of relationship.

    Robert Klippel. Sculpture and collage symbiotic.

    I’m definitely drawn to the more abstract formal explorations. Nigel Henderson’s work and that of Elwyn Lewis which I saw at AGNSW last night particularly excite.

    To break the ice I decided to use known source material and focus on pattern. A plain background with textured but flat collage materials.
    * Base: a large buff yellow envelope, opened out.
    * Collage materials: mono-printed brushmarks on newspaper. Painted lines based on previous nude sketches. Lines cut out with a scalpel (I briefly tried tearing them out, but with all the texture of the newsprint and the brushmarks a crisper line looked better).

    collage 20160922

    collage 20160922

    I like the flat texture. Much time was spent trying out arrangements and there was some unintended shifting during the pasting process. Overall it’s quite lively and some interesting shapes created. There’s some flow and movement. I tried an overall arrangement but marginally preferred leaving that area on the left so I could move up to the right. Not entirely successful.

    There is some lifting in a couple of places creating shadow lines which detract from the flatness. Some of the combinations where different pieces of paper overlap are clumsy. That piece of coloured newsprint centre right was unintended. I quite like it – just wish it was intentional.

    collage 20160922 detail

    collage 20160922 detail

    The nude sketching lines and monoprinting process produces very attractive texture. I’ll use this idea again.

    Having an initial overview of the terrain, I’ll start researching artists whose work particularly attracts me. I’d like to devise a brief based on each, making my own explorations.

    Helen Campbell (2016 a) “Stuck on you” In Look Art Gallery Society of New South Wales 0916
    Helen Campbell (2016 b) Art of parts: collage and assemblage from the collection Art Gallery NSW [online] http://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/artsets/6mga1g
    Tate Collage http://www.tate.org.uk/learn/online-resources/glossary/c/collage

    Weekly roundup 18 September 2016

    Setting a new course (15-Sep-2016) has been a major preoccupation this week. [I typed “course” thinking of direction, but nice that it’s also a program of study]. It’s early days and I’m still feeling my way. Managing time and a sense of progress will need ongoing attention. In the structure of a formal college course I could see what was coming, tick off an exercise as “good enough”, choose to deviate from requirements… I could wrap up something with a comment about maybe coming back to it later. Now I need to take a breath, focus not only on the journey but the way in which I journey, work meaningfully at what seems right to me. Hold my nerve.

    Lecture Jane Clark Mona: Art, experiment, advocacy. (part of the AGNSW Collectors & Collections series).
    Mona is the Museum of Old and New Art. What an amazing place. A group of us have been vaguely talking about a visit, but now it’s Must Go Soon.

    Jane Clark, Senior Research Curator, has been involved from the early days and gave us an overview without too many spoilers (her term). The collection is fluid, exciting, personal. David Walsh, the owner, works with what he’s excited by, he wants to keep learning. He aims to change peoples’ minds – not what to think, but to think. To visit is to experience sensory shock, disequilibrium, art that is visceral, intellectual, playful.

    Opening soon is On the origin of art, and it sounds like a must-experience event.

    Catherine Speck (ed.) (2011) Selected letters of Hans Heysen and Nora Heysen Canberra: National Library of Australia
    My mother and I are sharing this book prior to a visit to Adelaide (home of Hans Heysen) next month. Lots about the Australian art scene from the 1930s to 1960s – the exhibitions, personalities, associations, the traditionalists and the abstract painters, the challenges of making a living and finding time to paint as a woman with domestic responsibilities (more letters have survived from Nora to her parents than vice versa). An interesting, gentle insight on the family life of artists.

    No major insights for my own work, other than to maintain confidence and to continue questioning and challenging oneself, to keep working, to keep finding time.

    Laura Breede “Spiderwomen: Bourgeois-Trockel-Hatoum-Amer” In BrĂŒderlin, M (ed) (2013) Art & Textiles: Fabric as material and concept in modern art from Klimt to the present Stuttgart: Hatje Cantz Verlag.

    20160915This short essay touched on negative associations around textiles and femininity. Women’s work. And the ways in which this has been challenged, subverted, by artists including those mentioned in the title.

    Some interesting ideas around duality, contrasts, clashes. Break || Repair – with fear behind both. Absence || Presence – simultaneously. That last led to ideas around layering and hiding, the angles of view of a sculpture. How can one surprise, with first impressions deceiving?

    Stepping back to think about working methods: I like many aspects of this book. The section I am currently reading has a series of short essays, each followed by pages of photographs of related works. Being primed by the reading material really changes the viewing experience. I also tried to slow down, make associations, note ideas – a number of which could be relevant when I get on to practical collage work.

    Markus BrĂŒderlin “Fabrics between material and spirit: The preserving, healing, and maltreated canvas” In BrĂŒderlin, M (ed) (2013) Art & Textiles: Fabric as material and concept in modern art from Klimt to the present Stuttgart: Hatje Cantz Verlag.

    20160915-2More dualities – Destruction || Transcendency. Material || Immaterial. Banality || Transcendency. Injury || Healing. Exposing || Concealing (noting the difference a word makes – expose or reveal).

    Lucio Fontana slashed the canvas, “painting’s sacred surface”. The act questions value, sacredness. A link made between the stretched canvas and crucifixion seems a little extreme. But I wonder – many weavers find it difficult to cut into their cloth. I’ve carefully kept small offcuts. What would it be like to sacrifice that, to paint over it?


    The intention this weekend was to finish the small printed mulberry paper vessel I began last week (11-Sep-2016). Progress has been made, work continues. I will distract attention from this by pointing out my new/revived working method of having paper and pencils by me as I work. Some notes about the work in hand such as slowly varying strength of colour by manipulating which side of the print is showing. Some ideas for future projects, such as painting a gradation on the paper before cutting and coiling. And finally notes trying to be aware of the world around, such as the seeds in my apple.

    Exhibition: Suzanne Archer the alchemy of the studio
    Thursday was the opening of this exhibition at the Macquarie University Art Gallery.

    Suzanne Archer Coalesce (not quite full view)

    Suzanne Archer
    Coalesce (not quite full view)

    I found it hard to take in – many of the works are large, there is so much detail and patterning and colour, it’s often dark (in many senses, including emotion). I found it repellent and fascinating. I felt rather immature and shallow before the weight of emotion. The opening speeches didn’t help me towards understanding – they seemed somewhat marginal to Archer (who didn’t speak), and more about how much one might remember of the sixties and speculation on an uncertain future.

    Suzanne Archer Coalesce (detail)

    Suzanne Archer
    Coalesce (detail)

    Basically I can’t comment on the work because I can’t see it as a whole. I can’t comprehend it. But even without understanding I’m convinced there is a huge amount I can learn from. I walked around looking at details and kept finding more and more.

    Suzanne Archer Derangement (detail)

    Suzanne Archer
    Derangement (detail)

    There’s a great video of Archer talking about her drawing process here. The layering and revision – ink wash, compressed charcoal, white pastel, acrylic (not in the work in the video), the changing, dropping and adding of elements – the works show a journey, sometimes battle, a process of discovery.

    Suzanne Archer Guardians (detail)

    Suzanne Archer
    Guardians (detail)

    Archer has developed an arsenal of motifs and marks that she uses again and again. Animal skulls, her own face, that pattern of crosses which isn’t cross-hatching but might work similarly. Many of them are loaded with meaning – Archer’s own, the objects she has collected, but also the viewer’s.

    Suzanne Archer

    Suzanne Archer

    As well as the hung paintings and drawings there were two vitrines holding concertina books. These showed most clearly the collage elements which are so relevant to my current investigation. Archer’s early work used a lot of collaged text from newspapers and posters. The collage is less apparent in Radiating Memories which appears to have hessian collaged in areas under the oil paint. The texture and slight emphasis it gave really appealed to me.

    Suzanne Archer Shelf VI - Mask (detail)

    Suzanne Archer
    Shelf VI – Mask (detail)

    What I found most fascinating were the assemblages almost hidden in one corner of the room. Quite large, in integrated perspex (?) boxes, back-wall and floor patterned, populated with wrapped figures and objects.

    Shelf VI – Mask is dramatic in red and black. At the back a bird plummeting, bound, an upside-down crucifix. A figure presents… what? Is that the mask. Another large bird seems to look out quizzically at the viewer. I was bewildered by it, but attracted by the strong patterns and colour.

    Suzanne Archer Shelf II - Angel (detail)

    Suzanne Archer
    Shelf II – Angel (detail)

    Shelf II – Angel includes newspaper, jute string, pva, acrylic paint, timber, steel, canvas, hessian. There was another plummeting bird, a figure, a fish gasping for air, all camouflaged in a grid of hessian and broken white paint. The texture was amazing, so striking as to be almost aggressive.

    Archer apparently works intuitively. Should one even look for a message? Do we each bring or find our own?

    Suzanne Archer Libretto of Lunacy (detail)

    Suzanne Archer
    Libretto of Lunacy (detail)

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