Archive for May 8th, 2016

Weekly roundup 8 May 2016

An abbreviated post this week. My major focus this weekend has been work on presentation of Mixed Media for Textiles for assessment. There will be summary documents to blog, but all at the moment is Work In Progress.

Paper yarn project
This is “complete” (such a challenging, subjective and subject-to-change term), but a full presentation will have to wait. My eye is on the critical path.

1&20 project
A new weekly sketching project has been planned, but nothing to see yet. This involves Claire (link), sketching and a weekly challenge. I suspect this will be a Tuesday night scramble in the coming week 🙂

Two this week.

First Collectors and Collections, this week Craig Judd talking on “Charles Saatchi a Modern Medici?”. Mr Judd stood in for an unwell presenter and I have to admit to the danger of becoming a stalker – he is a very engaging, entertaining, erudite speaker. We started on the human desire to collect, the comfort, sense of order, the stories told, Gertrude Stein and Peggy Guggenheim, and arrived at a hard-nosed businessman who as an advertiser knew how to change our consciousness of art.

I remain unconverted to the ethos of Young British Art – and Mr Judd seemed ambivalent. Being sensational for the sake of sensation (or profit) remains for me, ultimately, tedious. Still, one has to admit the success.

I choose to take a shaky high-ground.

The second talk was Susannah Fullerton – “Artistic authors or literary artists?”. This was a whirl-wind tour of William Blake, Hans Christian Anderson, Thackeray, the Brontës and more, and left me unsatisfied. Ms Fullerton is an experienced and polished speaker, and I have enjoyed her lectures in the past, but this was a quick, unbalanced overview. I think all of the authors/artists mentioned were long dead and primarily authors. William Blake could be seen as regarding text and image as an integrated whole, but for most text was primary.

My personal interest is the use of language or text by artists, and as it happens I’ve seen a few examples this week.

fuse_plastic_48Particularly exciting is fellow student Lottie’s use of a 3D pen – see here. When I wanted text from a 3D pen I focused on drawing in 3D, resulting in a lot of structure to maintain the form (10-Apr-2015). Lottie writes on a flat surface then lifts the text. Beautiful. Poetic. I want to try it now, then dribble with resin then … But it has to wait.

Also this week I’ve been reading about Simryn Gill, in preparation for a week-long workshop with Ruth Hadlow. As it happens I have a clear memory of looking at Gill’s photographs Forest at the Art Gallery of NSW (link). In these Gill tore up books and attached the shreds, integrated them, into the environment. So in the spiral markings of a palm tree, fragments of classic texts can be read – fragments that gradually deteriorate. In Pearls text torn from very specific books are formed into beads on a necklace (see tate_link).

Wang Lei  Armour of Triumph

Wang Lei
Armour of Triumph

While going back through my Mixed Media work I came to Between the Lines by Ariana Boussard-Reifel (link). All the words are carefully excised from a cheaply printed white supremacist book. Austin Kleon blacks out words to transform meaning ( Liza Green ( does beautiful, thoughtful work with text and books. I’ve recently mentioned Wang Lei’s work with Chinese-English dictionaries, seen at White Rabbit gallery. In a very small way, my own paper yarn project.

Given these are just examples I’ve noticed recently, clearly the field is huge. The meanings, the processes – huge. Just as clearly it attracts my notice. I think I need to stay alert, consciously note examples. Another strand of investigation.

I haven’t been to an exhibition as such this week, but both lectures were at AGNSW, and every time I go there I try to arrive a bit early to look around at what’s happening. This week I decided to face up to unfinished business.

Sheila Hicks  Installation in progress

Sheila Hicks
Installation in progress

A couple of months ago I mentioned Sheila Hicks’s work in installation (18-Mar-2016). I was excited to see Hicks’s work in real life. I was even more excited when she was scheduled to speak during the Biennale, but that was cancelled.

Very disappointing, but worse is being completely underwhelmed by the work itself. It’s installed in the entrance court, so I look at it every visit and try to figure what is going on. Bluntly, as a whole I find The Embassy of Chromatic Delegates dull.

Sheila Hicks

Sheila Hicks

I can identify a few reasons. I think the lighting is poor. It’s better in the day with the high windows, but it’s still just a sliver of light and not enough. The work feels cramped, crowded into the space between two entry arches leading to side galleries. The installation itself is static, too evenly distributed (one of my own classic failings). Finally if you’re going to have “Chromatic” in the title, the work had better be full of colour. There are some lovely rich colours, but overall and at a distance – dull. I think in Australia, in our light, with many of our artists, we’re not afraid of colour. Walk around AGNSW and, while of course not universal, you are not going to go short of a big colour fix.

Sheila Hicks

Sheila Hicks

Looking at the photos now there is a lot of colour and texture. Should I rethink? Does one have to be slammed with colour? A wider view may show better how restrained / constrained the work looks, all huddled together. I’d like to see it installed in 2 or 3 subgroups, spread over more wall-space. Perhaps then it would be more imposing. The cropping of the photograph flatters it.


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May 2016

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