Archive for May 22nd, 2016

Weekly roundup 22 May 2016

submission in box

submission in box

The big news: Mixed Media for Textiles parcel is posted, paperwork and advisory emails completed, a couple of past provisional blog posts finalised, video with narration, stills and identifying subtitles uploaded.

Packing boxes within box was like a 3D jigsaw with no ‘right’ solution. I think the additions to the video give extra information plus make it clearer that the video is documentation, not the final work itself. Still, the most important word is “Done”!!! Below is a lower resolution version.

There’s a break before I can begin my next OCA course, with the new level 2 course due to be released in September. Now the challenge is to live that time richly, productively, a trial of beyond the structure of studies.

The plan is to live the life I aspire to. Follow various strands of inquiry, look, think, interact. I don’t have a particular target, other than not to drift. These round ups are part of that, part of living consciously, being accountable to myself.

Paper Yarn project
The last update was May 1 and since then it’s been promises.
The final additions:

30/4 & 1/5 How quick to fall out of habits!
2/5 Some ribbon from a mountain gift, combined with more of the newspaper. Getting close I think.
3/5 A bit more of the Darley’s ribbon, a bit more newspaper, and I’m calling it done.
A fast review:

In the Collectors series Louise Marshall talked about Art and the Renaissance court: the d’Este of Ferrara. Some beautiful Renaissance images. I’d love to spend some time at the Palazzo Schifanoia. A reminder of the very calculating way art and the symbolism contained can be a political tool.

1&20 sketching project
Claire ( and I have undertaken a shared project. We meet pretty much every week at the AGNSW lectures and we’ve decided to bring in a new sketch each week to discuss and critique, and help keep our sketching fresh and moving. No grand plans, we’ll see where it can take us. We’ve chosen an initial task of going into an environment, deciding on a focus in one minute, then 20 minutes drawing.

So far I’ve chosen items in my workroom – where I’ve been spending most of my time, tying up MMT. Week 1 was one of my MMT wrapping samples. Some paper with traces of indigo on it, oil pastels, quite lively. Claire brought in a very polished drawing in pencil on cartridge paper. In week 2 I took up the challenge of drawing something and trying to make it look like the actual object (usually I’m concentrating on observing, or lines, or whatever, not so much on producing an image as such). So hopefully you can tell what the object was.


sketch 20160519 - based on Gordon Baldwin's stoneware form (1971)

sketch 20160519 – based on Gordon Baldwin’s stoneware form (1971)

Julie recently wrote about seeing work by Gordon Baldwin in the Antony Shaw collection now housed in York ( There are works by Gillian Lowndes in Shaw’s collection too. I’ve been looking at Baldwin’s work, trying to see what really catches my attention, thinking about how that could feed into the materials and processes I’ve been using recently.

Looks like a potential research strand, but I’m wary of starting up too many strands at once.

Ephemeral art
Suzanne Davey ( left a comment about the Ruth Hadlow workshop. After visiting Suzanne’s website there was still more grinding of teeth about missing the class – Suzanne’s work really draws me, and I would have loved to have spent time with her. The term “ephemeral art installation” came up within her work. It was only last week I learned the term, when Michael Hill used it talking about Andy Goldsworthy (who apparently makes them almost daily, a kind of warm up or sketching practice). There’s an idea somewhere in there for building my sculptural sensibilities. Not working in nature and letting weather do its thing. Perhaps it fits back into the MMT approach, lots of samples and the wrapping ones especially soon dismantled. Make, record, reflect, repeat.
And depending on your time scale, isn’t everything ephemeral? Is the difference a matter of how much we treat something as precious, that we take pains to maintain, or that we try to control?

sketch 20160522

sketch 20160522

These thoughts have fed into some other recent thoughts/discussions, leading to the “ephemeral sketch” on the right. The crumbling nature of the kinetic sand took over, but I really like the feeling of constructing a line, thinking in three dimensions.

Text / writing
Very interested in some of the work Lottie has been doing with a 3D pen and text (eg Love the animation and the idea of not-quite-readable.

Preparatory readings for Ruth Hadlow’s class (sob) included a number related to Simryn Gill. I remember seeing her Forest photographs at AGNSW ( and a particular example Strips of text from books torn and arrange in nature, say in the bark grooves of a palm. And we’re back at ephemeral art.

I tripped over the Voynich manuscript ( this week – a mysterious text that hasn’t been deciphered. That mystery obviously is very effective at engaging people as the ongoing attempts to find meaning show.

What is important about something that appears to be text above other expressive marks? I don’t accept that there is such an “above”, just all sort of differences between many, many forms of mark. Expressing one’s self, finding meaning, connecting – words are among the options.

All this was definitely on my mind when I visited the Biennale on Cockatoo Island this week.

Biennale – Cockatoo Island

Willing to be vulnerable (detail!) Lee Bul

Willing to be vulnerable (detail!)
Lee Bul

Lee Bul’s monumental installation in the Turbine Hall felt like wandering through a slightly futuristic, slightly shabby fairground. Views through patterned plastic banners drew you in. A tufted foil blimp reflected. I liked the references to the location – a trapeze artist balanced on the hook of a large crane.

Willing to be vulnerable Lee Bul

Willing to be vulnerable
Lee Bul

Lights twinkled. It was only at the end, reading the information sign, that I discovered the lights outlined text. Can you read what’s on that balloon? I can’t – not when there, not on a detail photo at full resolution. I’ve tried to figure it out by matching to the written list of texts on the sign, without success. ‘silentspring’ perhaps. Not ‘agreatsocialregressionintoinfantalism’, or ‘ananthologyofvoices’. If I had been able to read the text I may have seen the installation differently. But perhaps being illegible, reinforcing that point by listing in detail on the signage, is the point. My child-like wonderment turned baffled. Then in the catalogue I read “… the concept that the ideal is always there, just beyond our grasp, and so we are fated to continue yearning and striving for that which is essentially unattainable”. Ow.

Camille Henrot Grosse Fatigue

Camille Henrot
Grosse Fatigue

Camille Henrot presented a video and a number of bronze sculptural works.

The video took the form of a large computer screen, presenting the story of the creation of the universe, full of all the jotted notes, snips of text and videos, images and graphics that clutter our screens and minds. A warm male voice spoke poetry, creation myths from different cultures. I’d like to go back and quietly watch it all. The catalogue text includes “challenges the traditional categorisation of art history”. I didn’t see that, but was a bit distracted at the time.

The sculptural works reminded us of Henry Moore with their voluptuous curves, but were even more explicit. The room was dark and my photos blurred unfortunately.

Emma McNally

Emma McNally

Emma McNally showed twelve enormous drawings, graphite and carbon on paper. Some looked like maps. Some were dark and light masses that reminded us of Turner. The detail above shows the meticulous, detailed work.

And then you find this.

Emma McNally

Emma McNally

Chaos. In other places the surface appears sanded away, the paper almost rubbed through. It’s violent.

There is a sense of the physical effort, the time, the stretch of muscles, the artist responding to her work in front of her. There is a terrain we try to read. Is this an abstraction of land, of our lives?

Chiharu Shiota Conscious Sleep

Chiharu Shiota
Conscious Sleep

This installation by Chiharu Shiota is in the prisoners’ barracks in the convict precinct. It looks like a tangled dream of a hospital. Filaments of mind and nerve? A network of connections? My first reaction upon entering was constriction. I thought of my mother-in-law, trapped, bed-ridden, years of living death in a nursing home. Her mind has outlasted her body. My personal overwhelmed the voice of the artist.

The same evening I came across a photo of Duchamp’s Sixteen Miles of String installation. Some very different ideas. More reading required.


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May 2016

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