Archive for June, 2016

Dimensional / depth weaving

dimensional_weave_3My weekly roundup was already in draft form including tentative plans for “depth weaving” when Claire lent me a rotary corrugating tool plus a bag of goodies including embossing foil. I’d asked for her advice on corrugating metal strips or foil following my dimensional weaving experiment (12-Jun-2016).



The photo above shows the rotary tool, a sheet of foil, and my first sample which uses a strip of the foil.

It looks very neat and precise. It’s also reasonably firm, so accepts and holds curves I put into it. The foil is probably available in rolls, to give greater lengths – something to research.



Wanting more length, sample 2 used a longer piece of kitchen foil – a cheap brand and light gauge. It started as the full width of 30 cm. I kept folding, crimping, finding it still very soft, so pulling out the corrugations and folding the width more eventually down to roughly 2 cm. It holds the crimps, but not any folds I try to make.

It’s very shiny, more brash than the embossing foil. I could use the less shiny side, or use this as an advantage.



There was some unintentional folding and crimping at an angle in s2. I decided to push this, folding a new piece of kitchen foil and then putting more folds into the sides to create uneven width.

It went through the crimping tool without trouble, and is a little firmer in the hand than s2.



I liked the additional creasing in s3 where I’d put the extra folds. Wanting to get more of this, I took a new piece of kitchen foil and roughly pleated it along its length by hand. I pushed the creases flat, then used the crimping tool.

The result is still corrugated, but very textured at the detail level. Although wider than the folded s2 and s3 the result is much firmer in the hand and sits up well when I try to put in looping folds.

s1 to s4 -20160626

s1 to s4 -20160626

I see s1 and s4 as the samples with potential at the moment.

S1 is lovely and crisp and precise. Less shiny than the others – it looks more elegant and expensive to me. It doesn’t demand attention and I think would work well with other materials and allow the focus to be on the dimensional folding.

S4 has lots of extra texture and interest. You lose some of the corrugations that were my original intention, but you get a lively effect and extra stability in return. It could be a bit of a prima donna.

s5-20160626 view 2

s5-20160626 view 2



S5 is the 4 previous samples, woven together with strips of insect mesh. The structure is plain weave, although that’s not apparent with all the loops of extra material. I attempted some twists in the mesh with the idea of varying tones, but it didn’t hold. Lots of options to address that if I choose.

What next?

  • I’ve already mentioned (earlier today) metal and much crisper/neater, then undulating the folds of metal so they suggest an image, then use the gridded mesh weft to create tone. pleat_13That idea may have started thinking of the Barak building in Melbourne (link), and searching for that link took me back to corrugation experiments in MMT Part 1, which I should probably revisit (5-Apr-2015).
  • Attempts could be to highlight the view through, or Fontana’s infinite dimension…
  • Print p4-89

    Print p4-89

    Collagraph plate. More work to emboss obviously. How about a diptych, one side a collagraph print, the other an embossed, cut into strips and woven version – what would the new dimension show or suggest, the newly exposed interior? Thinking of that took me back to printing in MMT – the paper shown here was heavily embossed, although the photograph doesn’t show that well (can’t take a new photo, as it’s with OCA in the UK waiting for assessment, and will probably be thoroughly flattened going through the post). Can one print on foil?
  • Variations in the corrugation – for example slit and twist, especially with the foils that have colour on one side. This reminds me of wrapped warp techniques – in a previous post (14-Oct-2012) I mentioned Sheila Hicks’s Zapallar (link).
  • lace & finger manipulated sampler

    lace & finger manipulated sampler

    Other weave structures, especially with the new depth, could be reimagined. Supplementary weft? Theo Moorman technique – that could really be worth exploring. Or spanish lace – being foil and corrugated there must be ways to take advantage of the open / turning areas to go a bit wild.
  • Perhaps I could emboss the foil in a way similar to the pvc board in the workshop with Jet James (16-Jul-2015), although that’s working very fine and detailed.
  • I could write on the foil – as a long strip, or a page of text that is then cut.
  • I’m sure there’s more, but I want to stop my mind racing and spend more time with the materials. Experience them. Listen to them.

    Weekly roundup 26 June 2016

    Lecture: Anne Gérard-Austin Gustave Caillebotte, the ideal collection (part of the AGNSW Collectors & Collections series).

    I don’t think I’ve heard of Caillebotte before, but he was heavily involved with the French Impressionists as friend, supporter, collector, organiser of exhibitions and in leaving the French State an amazing bequest of artworks (only some of which were accepted). Caillebotte was also an artist whose paintings in Gérard-Austin’s view demonstrate that rather than a narrow, cohesive field there was a range of work which fell within (or near) Impressionism as a movement.

    Much of Caillebotte’s work may suggest Realism then you notice the unusual subject matter (often domestic interiors, or workers scraping floors in an urban apartment rather than rustic work in picturesque rural settings); flickering brushwork; radical composition and play with the geometry of the city (Caillebotte was interested in early photography). There is a coherence and modernity in Caillebotte’s compositions.

    During the lecture we saw many beautiful, some familiar, images of works by Renoir, Monet, Manet, Cézanne, Degas, Pissarro, but with my current grid and geometry interests it was Caillebotte’s own work which really excited. I’ve traced out a few as the basis for experiments.

    Panel discussion: Andrew Christofides, Rhonda Davis, Leonard Janiszewski, Lizzy Marshall and Paul McGillick in conversation, within the Into Abstraction exhibition at the Macquarie University Art Gallery.
    The conversation started by considering what is meant by “abstract art”. Possibilities included: all art – it’s a question of emphasis; thought patterns not simply process and outcome; representing the world without appearing like the world; mention of Kant’s viewing that which is unseen.

    There were some politics – starting with the 1860s and the teaching of art at the École des Beaux-Arts (does the student start by drawing old masters and learning the canon, or with their own markmaking?); the teaching of art in schools of the 1950s and 60s (in Australia looking to British conservatism, and definitely don’t encourage thinking for themselves in the masses); Wilhelm Worringer’s linking of art to the political and social, and the level of impact of German art theory in the UK and Australia…

    Lots of different views (some of them coming from the same person) over the “meaning” in abstract art: sometimes spiritual elements; dependent on context; dependent on the perception and engagement of the viewer; none.

    There were artists and ideas somewhat familiar to me, others not so much. I have pages of notes full of asterisks and underlines showing things I want to follow up.

    Andrew Christofides Lineage  (2001)

    Andrew Christofides

    Andrew Christofides was the only practicing artist, his work pictured here clearly relevant to my current research. He suggested abstract artists create languages that allow us to understand the world, to see it in a different way. Over time he has tried to extend the geometric language and syntax that he uses. He describes some of his work as “non-hierarchic” (aka modular) – a word that got a buzz around the panel. In response to a question from the audience Christofides explained that he brings together all sorts of things from his past experiences, into an image that people can respond to based on their own, different, experiences. He hopes people experience it in the way they experience music. There’s some more really interesting explanation of Studio Practice on his website – There’s also a rather long but illuminating interview of Christofides by McGillick at

    As well as being fuzzy, my photograph doesn’t capture the richness of colour, nor that the colour isn’t flat. That rust red background seems to have its own grid within it. I think it would actually translate very well into a woven piece – I’d try 20/2 silk, finished very carefully to minimise without eliminating the dimensionality of the weave. So not really the direction I’m expecting to go at the moment.

    Christofides also had copies for everyone of a diagram he has used in teaching, showing a continuum of more and less abstract and representational in art, plus concrete as the opposite to abstract. Including brief lists of words and artists associated with each, it makes a very useful guide.

    Macquarie University Sculpture Garden
    Later we walked through a little of the university’s Sculpture Garden.
    I spent around twelve years on and off at Macquarie, working part-time to a BSc. The building housing the Art Gallery didn’t exist back then and I suspect this grassy area and the lake may be newer too – certainly I was entirely unaware of them.

    Errol B Davis Springfire 1990

    Errol B Davis

    Springfire by Errol Davis can be rotated around, framing different sections of the landscape. Something about the two planes, the space between, the way this intensifies the depth of the window through, makes me think of the “depth weaving” (new, undefined term) that I am looking to create. [Note: this was written but not posted before my experiments in crimping and weaving metal – see next post].

    dimensional_weave_5This is a (planned) development or series of developments to the sample I showed 12-Jun-2016. First plan is simply corrugated metal and much crisper/neater. Next is undulating the folds of metal so they suggest an image, then use the gridded mesh weft to create tone. New third attempt could be to highlight the view through, or Fontana’s infinite dimension…

    While at the Gallery I was delighted to find out more about the one work I remember from my student days. It turns out to be Hojarasca En Oro by Olga de Amaral, acquired by the university in 1976 with the assistance of the Crafts board (the Gallery staff found the original catalogue card for me). It’s now in storage, but I found an image here.

    Made of wool and sisal, I remember it dusty, providing a little colour and texture on a large grey concrete wall in the cavernous E7B building. I’d spend a little time with it if I arrived early for COMP 101 (6 – 10pm Monday nights after work – brutal, like the architecture 🙂 ). See more of this amazing artist’s work on her website

    In particular there is a video which gives rich context to her work and also shows pieces during creation. It fits in well with the day’s topic of abstract art, to see some of the places, colours, textures that inform Olga de Amaral.

    Followup – Matisse Large Reclining Nude
    Last week (19-Jun-2016) I mentioned this work painted for the Cone sisters, and the series of photographs of progress. From the video referenced ( I’ve made a page of images to look at the changes in the grid(s) and the influence on the overall composition.

    Matisse Large reclining nude progress photos

    Large reclining nude progress photos

    No 1&20 sketch this week, and not a lot of reading completed. Currently new things to read, do and think are coming up more quickly than I can deal with. I feel the need to look long term and pace myself.

    Weekly roundup 19 June 2016

    Lecture: Lorraine Kypiotis – Isabella Stewart Gardner and the Grandes Dames of the Gilded Age (part of the AGNSW Collectors & Collections series).
    Lorraine Kypiotis is a very entertaining speaker who really enters into the spirit of her subjects (and often the dress – this time including an enormous bustle). Isabella Stewart Gardner, Louisine Waldron Havemeyer, Berthe Honoré Palmer – an interesting gallery of determined women, some rivalries, and some amazing art.

    With my ongoing grid theme, Large reclining nude by Matisse caught my eye. This was painted for the Cone sisters of Baltimore, and a series of photographs were sent to them while Matisse was working on the painting. It’s fascinating to see the sequence, including the appearance and changes in the grid –

    Lecture: Maggie Patton – Friends: The Perfect Match – A Rare Book of Rare Maps at the State Library NSW.
    This was a birthday gift to my mother. The library had set up tables with a number of early volumes of atlases, including Theatrum orbis terrarum by Abraham Ortelius. A zoomable image of one of the maps is available from Other volumes were by Gerhard Mercator, Joan Blaeu and Ioannes van Keulen. Gloved staff were on hand to turn pages for us, with slips of paper marking maps of particular interest.

    An enjoyable talk, although I suspect most of the information would be familiar to many of the map afficionados. It also gave rise to musings on the grid of Mercator’s projection, the distortions of scale and what impact that may have had on peoples’ perception of the world.

    1&20 sketch:
    I wanted to do a blind sketch. Wanting something not to familiar in shape, I chose amethyst crystals. The drawing used a fine (0.4) Artline pen on A3 cartridge paper.
    20160613Twenty minutes is a very long time to sit with your eyes shut. I peeked about three times, but only at the countdown timer.

    I felt for the edge periodically, and was convinced that I’d covered the page. Not so.

    The photo doesn’t show it well, but I like the quality of lines, jagged but clear and purposeful. It looks like a map of a remote group of islands, with a spine of mountains.

    Grid projections
    Thinking about grids and dimensions and orthogonality, I tried to draw an isometric projection of a series of cubes. For whatever reason I’ve enjoyed drawing cubes as long as I can remember, but never tried to put them together in a pattern or mass. What would happen if a 2D isometric projection was transformed into 3D?

    I drew on a flat surface using the 3D plastic pen. Then I picked up the drawing, hoping it would bend or twist into 3 dimensions. Parts broke, but overall it was annoyingly rigid. I tried to soften and allow it to move using a hair-dryer, but no-where near hot enough.

    Later I tried a heat-gun, the grid balanced on a small mountain of kinetic sand.

    The sense of a grid or structure is lost. It looks like discarded wire in a pile of rubble, but without the rubble. The twisting of heat has combined with the weight of gravity to sag and distort. This isn’t a lively line. It is slumped, defeated.

    Other grids
    I’m still collecting images, with a liberal interpretation of “grid”. A couple of works seen at AGNSW this week:

    Godfrey Miller  Still Life With Fruit (detail)  c 1954-56

    Godfrey Miller
    Still Life With Fruit (detail) c 1954-56

    Godfrey Miller  Still Life With Fruit

    Godfrey Miller
    Still Life With Fruit

    The grid in Godfrey Miller’s work is often very clear, as in this example at AGNSW (link). Miller saw structural equivalence in painting and music, and ideas of rhythm and geometrical line, horizontal and vertical were important.

    Ian Fairweather  Anak Bayan

    Ian Fairweather
    Anak Bayan (1957)

    Ian Fairweather  Anak Bayan  (detail)

    Ian Fairweather
    Anak Bayan (detail)

    I also see a grid in the composition of this work by Ian Fairweather (a much better photo on the AGNSW website, link).

    In this I particularly like the layering, earlier forms still visible through later paint. A mix of order and chaos, a sense of time.

    Sculpture by the Sea web gallery
    A great source of inspiration is the large collection of images on the Sculpture by the Sea website

    Jennifer Cochrane has exhibited a number of times. Cochrane makes cubes of steel, a repetitive, labour-intensive process, which are then stacked together and welded in a response to the specific landscape in which they are installed.

    The impact and versatility of Cochrane’s stack of grids is impressive. More information:, /

    The approach and result remind me of Clare Falkenstein’s work, the topological structure and the sign repeated in a never-ending lattice (11-Mar-2016).

    Madeline Clare also works in multiples of cubes – this time apparently wooden frames with a wrapped web of filament. Her website ( refers to play and exploration, moving between internal and external space to create the work.

    With both Cochrane and Clare there are cubes containing space which are themselves contained in the larger final work. Inside and outside, folding of space… what could this mean?

    Sorkin, J. (2015) “Tactile Beginnings: Barbara Kasten” In Barbara Kasten: Stages (Zürich: JRP|Ringier, 2015), 148-169. In conjunction with the exhibition organized by Alex Klein, ICA Philadelphia. [Online] Available at (accessed 16 June 2016)
    Barbara Kasten trained as a painter, then saw texture and colour possibilities in fibre. Her work, and weaving, was experimental, sculptural. She manipulated warp to create volume, combined it with silk-screen printing of photographic imagery. Kasten played with fragmented bodily forms and inversions, worked with scale and gravity, drama and lighting. “Kasten’s point of departure, then, was the conceptualization of space and its material transformations.” (p 151)

    My attention was caught by this artist, and the essay, with references to the coded grid of the weave draft, an unseen architecture of vertical and horizontal, plus the whole idea of mixed media including improvised weaving.

    Kasten produced a provocative series of “off-loom weavings that manipulate a classic chair as a stand-in for the female body”. They show both sensuality and pathos. The essay discusses the relationship of this work to feminism. It’s not clear to me how conscious or desired such reference may have been to the artist.

    It seems actual weaving was a relatively short-lived process in Kasten’s work, but the influence continued. Kasten moved into photographic works and cyanotype prints – translating the 3 dimensional woven forms into the picture plane, in some superimposing a grid.

    Ulrich Heinen in conversation with Bazon Brock “On the cultural anthropology of the textile: The generalized principle of the great world spider – The history of the linking of horizontality and verticality” In Brüderlin, M (ed) (2013) Art & Textiles: Fabric as material and concept in modern art from Klimt to the present Stuttgart: Hatje Cantz Verlag
    Cultural anthropology is not a familiar field to me, but a. I’ve set out to read this book, roughly one essay a week; b. this particular essay has lots of discussion about the orthogonal structure of weaving, so fits within my grid research.

    Still, reading this was a challenge. Tying up ideas neatly for the blog near impossible.

    There is order and repetition in weaving – steady, small, limited, defined steps progress to ever longer length.

  • The textile grows, a temporal process toward eternity.
  • The process is a basic form of how we deal with challenges.
  • There is correspondence to the repetition of breathing or heart rate.
  • An abstraction of processes in nature, such as a bird building its nest
  • What may be the first form of loom, the warp weighted loom – based on gravity.

  • An orientation of heaven and earth.
  • Emphasis of predetermined, orthogonality.
  • Horizontal and vertical – as the human interacts with the world through the vestibular system – a natural order.
  • Forming a network.

  • Relational networks are fundamental in the world, and are shown in woven textiles
  • The small entity of cross threads repeated to realise the whole, just as writing builds text.
  • It (weaving, text) is not random, fragments, without structure.
  • An order.

  • Similar order in the ploughing of fields
  • Maps based on longitude and latitude
  • The grid of a Roman encampment – centuriation method
  • The (infinite) repetition of forms inward and outward. Sanctification of order.
  • A necessity.

  • “the anthropological necessity of the ordo without which the world cannot be accepted.” (p. 73)
  • Without order there is no justice, without justice no truth.
  • A link between nature and the artificial

  • P 73 “the textile as the bridge between the ordo of nature and that of the artificial.”
  • “The textile was the foundation of this aesthetic…” (Mondrian and other modern artists). “The aesthetics of the right angle and gravity”
  • Has this known link and understanding been lost? They discuss whether weaving is no longer a familiar daily part of life, but seen only briefly in news reports of tragedies in low-wage countries.

  • The ordo principle of horizontality and verticality remains in place in the modern world, eg artificial horizons.
  • An ongoing, indispensable orientation.
  • Sample p1-135a MMT

    Sample p1-135a

  • For example in 3D design software (image from Part 1 of Mixed Media for Textiles)
  • In such software “One proceeds from a flat, fabric-like orthogonally structure surface that is deformed through transformations in Euclidean space as if one pulled, stretched, folded, or creased a textile.”
  • Fold around us

  • Textiles shape around the body, a protective membrane over tents. Interior and exterior.
  • P 76 infinite different forms through folds. “Widens possibilities of expression”, “structures social space”, changes how we feel and how we are seen., catch the wind (sails)
  • Used to adapt us to the world.
  • The structure of the weave gives this plasticity

    P 77 “it is especially order that substantiates diversity”
    A pile of cloth thrown in a corner “it is suddenly discovered in this fold that a large number of different volumes are formed in the smallest of spaces”.

    The ordo of the orthogonal and the textile ordo of the fold deriving from it. In a textile fold there is no space between conception and realization. (This in the context of modern architecture which rejects the ordo of the orthogonal).

    No neat ending here in terms of what can be done starting from these ideas. Longer maturation time required, I think 🙂


    Grey day in Sydney

    Grey day in Sydney

    I’ve been looking and listening and reading a lot lately, but apart from the 1&20 project with Claire and a little sampling there hasn’t been much hands-on work lately.

    Today I’ve taken advantage of a particularly wet and gloomy Sunday to tweak my work practice.

    During the week I make notes on what I’m reading and doing in Evernote, then on Sundays I put together this round up. Today I’ve only included items finished. An article or two remain half-read, a web trail is going just slightly cold. They can roll into next week. The bulk of today has gone into creating a new sketchbook – The Grid.


    I liked how the MMT Part 5 sketchbook worked (final post 21-Apr-2016). Overall this will work the same way – mostly A2 pages of cartridge paper folded to A3 with occasional other papers mixed in, a combination of computer printing and working directly on the paper, building book sections as I go. This time instead of leaving binding to the end I’m pamphlet stitching sections individually as I go and will figure out some way of joining sections together later. I think this will make it easier to go back and forward, adding to and reworking previous pages.

    This first section has photos of research and sampling to date with lots of white space to go back and work into. More when that’s happened.

    Weekly roundup 12 June 2016

    Lecture: Alison Inglis – The Felton Bequest and the transformation of the National Gallery of Victoria (part of the AGNSW Collectors & Collections series).
    I first heard about the Felton Bequest when I visited the NGV in 2013 during the Understanding Western Art course. A brief mention of the bequest is included 13-Sept-2013. In just over a century the bequest has purchased over 15,000 works for NGV, with current estimates of value in the $billions.

    As well as the life of the man and some works donated by the Bequest, it was interesting to get more information on the politics – the impact of the specific terms and management structure. Then the wider impact on philanthropy – for example the Everard Studley Miller bequest, also to the NGV (link), with terms which appear a direct response to perceived deficiencies in the Felton.

    1&20 sketching
    Wednesday morning I still hadn’t done my sketching for 1&20. My bus ride to work is near enough to 20 minutes in standard traffic, so the tablet came out and surreptitious work began.

    Gordon, B. “Cloth and consciousness: Our deep connections: On the social and spiritual significance of the textile” In Brüderlin, M (ed) (2013) Art & Textiles: Fabric as material and concept in modern art from Klimt to the present Stuttgart: Hatje Cantz Verlag

    I read Gordon’s book Textiles: The Whole Story a few years ago (28-Jan-2012) and this essay was similar in providing a wide range of lenses with which to examine the impact and importance of textiles in history and our lives today. A couple of points that struck me: a comment on the universality of textiles – everyone has experience, history, with cloth. Also that the repetition and rhythm in textile making can be healing, meditative, and of course there’s the pleasure of handling the materials. I’ve certainly experienced that in weaving, including winding warps and dressing the loom. I’ve lost much – most? – of that while studying.

    Tangentially related to this is Made in Los Angeles, conservation scientist Rachel Rivenc in conversation with art historian Lucy Bradnock In VoCA Journal Rivenc has recently published a book, Made in Los Angeles: Materials, Processes, and the Birth of West Coast Minimalism (Getty Conservation Institute, 2016). I was particularly interested in some issues that came up when Rivenc responded to a question on the significance of craft as opposed to industrial manufacture. The subject artists often used complex processes to produce works that appear smooth and potentially industrially produced – but examined in detail show accident and touch. The artists valued craftsmanship and three of the four did their own work. One used fabricators because of the spread of skills he needed. The article talks about lengthy finicky rather than repetitive and rhythmic work, but it reinforces my developing view that debating about art versus craft is the wrong question.

    There’s also some good content on conservation challenges, the impact of any patina of age on an object that depended on say reflective or transparent properties. (This took me back to research on Eva Hesse (7-Jun-2015) and a Tate paper by Michelle Barger on replicating Hesse’s work (link)). I also like the idea that detailed technical analysis of material and process can be a path to being seduced by an artwork.

    Lucio Fontana
    Last week (5-Jun-2016) I quoted Hartmut Böhme about a painting and “the tension between showing and revoking”. Lucio Fontana’s slit monochrome canvases were given as an example, and this week I found an example at the Tate (Henry Tate was one of the philanthropists mentioned by Alison Inglis). The gesture, the decisive slash, is exciting. Even more so, Fontana’s claim that he had created an infinite dimension. “Fontana literally cut between the space occupied by the viewer, through the surface of the canvas, to the space that lies beyond.” I write about 3D and temporal. What could an indefinite, infinite space be?

    And is there such a thing as coincidence? Later in the week a notice of the VoCA Journal spring 2016 issue came in the email box and included an article on the collaborative work art historian Marina Pugliese is doing to produce an exhibition of Fontana’s light environments – More lines in space. Fontana exploring or making apparent the threshold between materiality and immateriality.

    Back to the Tate and a page on Fontana’s Spatial Light – Structure in Neon for the 9th Milan Triennial in 1951 ( This time a connection to the conservation challenge above – a quote from Fontana’s Spatial Manifesto 1947: “Art is eternal, but it cannot be immortal, it may live for a year or for millennia, but the time of its material destruction will always come: it will remain eternal as gesture, but it will die as material.”

    Hany Armanious

    Hany Armanious Untitled work 1996

    Hany Armanious
    Untitled work 1996

    Hany Armanious

    Hany Armanious

    Seen recently at MCA, this work began as a vinyl sheet wrapped around piping. Cut into discs or spools of tape with a band saw, the sequence of individual lengths was adhered to the wall to create this undulating mass of lines.

    The effect is mesmerizing. The museum signage notes this transformation “reveals Hany Armanious’ deep interest in the alchemical potential of materials.”

    A very ordinary material, a simple but unexpected process, an amazing result. The display of spool ends with the wall work makes its origins very apparent.

    My own reactions to this work led me on a side exploration of definitions and origins of “ambivalent” and “multivalent”. Regaining focus, I note my response to the beauty of the stripes, the pleasure of tracing those slight deviations, the fit and the deviation from line to line. There is an admiration of the cleverness, wondering about the sequence of thought or experiment that led to such effective simplicity. The choice to display the process – is that curator’s or artist’s? Why? What does this say about “art”?

    I’ve done just a little research, and realised that in the past I’ve spent some time with another work by Armanious – Turns in Arabba at AGNSW ( In that link AGNSW has a lengthy quote from the artist, including “undermining of the nature of the article”. I’d love to return to the work, but unfortunately it’s not on display currently. Nor is Snake Oil (link), where there are casts of quite ordinary objects and even “the interaction between the cooling water and hot matter.” It reminds me of the casting exercises, the exploration of materials, the work with sketching etc to really see what was happening in samples in the Mixed Media course. Armanious does all that then takes it further, gives it a depth of meaning, a real opening of eyes to another (or this) world – while still having a lightheartedness or humour or even taking the piss.

    Julie’s blog post on Hilary Ellis, which also included Julie’s pinterest page on grids, has triggered some work and experimenting.

    sketch 20160610

    sketch 20160610

    20160610 detail

    20160610 detail

    Liking Julie’s scratched sample and not being able to find any mountboard (bit of a roof leaking emergency last weekend, leading to even more disorder in the workroom than usual), I layered up red, orange and yellow oil pastels on a piece of green paper and tried scratching a grid using a fork. The fork just glided along – removed some colour, but not enough to show the green, and none of the stuttering irregularity I liked in Julie’s original.

    20160610b reverseEfforts to remove more pastel with the other end of the fork and both ends of a cocktail stick remained unsatisfying. I could try using a less absorbent base material to get better separation of colour, but in any case this is too flat. The paper has distorted a bit, but it seems I’m looking for more interaction of layers. Or maybe just more complexity.

    I’ve started building up a library of images loosely based on grids. While looking through old photos I came across corrugated cardboard. There’s already folding. How much more could I get in a piece of weaving? The grid of insect mesh attracted me for a combination to try.

    I’ll ignore signs of the challenges of construction.

    My initial reaction was the weave looked trapped, contained, tight. The heavy frame (see construction challenges) fixed the space.

    Over a few days, seeing it at different angles and in different lights, I found more movement, more promise. Plain weave exploding?

    I’d like to try it again using corrugated metal instead of cardboard. The reflection of light and of other parts of the construction could be interesting. I’d like to minimise the frame at the same time.

    I recently saw an Instructable with string art and an infinity mirror ( Perhaps a clear corrugated plastic woven with the insect mesh could work in a similar structure…

    Weekly roundup 5 June 2016

    The first two events were actually last Sunday – time ran out.

    Exhibition: Biennale of Sydney: Embassy of Disappearance at Carriageworks.
    This Embassy “brings together work by artists exploring themes of absence and memory, including disappearing languages, histories, currencies and landscapes”. Some of the works were very challenging on different levels – painful stories, huge amounts of text, jarring lights… More than I could take in.

    Lauren Brincat

    Lauren Brincat

    One work that interested me, for quite specific-to-me reasons, was Salt-Lines: Play It As It Sounds, Performance Instruments by Lauren Brincat. She uses bell ropes – proper bell ropes with sallies. I’m an ex-bellringer, from a family of bellringers, and have spent many hours pulling on rope tail ends and sallies. The accordion pleating of the sail-cloth reminds me of parts of Mixed Media for Textiles. “Performance” suggests a nice mix of performance art (Brincat’s work was apparently rearranged daily by “aides”) and musical performances (depending on points of view you could include bellringing in those).

    Lauren Brincat

    Lauren Brincat

    Perhaps because of those connections I found it difficult to see Brincat’s “meditation on the geographic borders that exist around the world’s oceans” (from the exhibition signage). That sits within the sailing references. And ropes like these I can only see as connections, not divisions. Perhaps it would have been different if I’d been there when the work was activated by rearrangement, with movement and the sound of rope through pulleys and fluttering sailcloth.

    Performance was a major theme in the Biennale and it’s definitely a challenge for an exhibition that’s on for almost three months.

    Lee Mingwei

    Lee Mingwei

    Lee Mingwei approached this problem in a very effective way in Guernica in Sand. The artist first recreated in sand the lines of Picasso’s masterpiece. Then over one day the artist first invited members of the public to walk barefoot through the sands, then he joined with friends to sweep the work with straw brooms. When I visited, a month later, the large, thick rectangle of sand on the floor was a maze of abstract, sweeping (!) lines, while on a monitor a video loop showed the performance.

    Lee Mingwei

    Lee Mingwei

    It was a very effective way of presenting and re-presenting a time-based work. The footprints still visible in the sand made the performance feel immediate.

    This links back to my earlier musing on ephemeral work. Even the blurred lines in the sand will be gone in a day or two when the Biennale closes, but its life was greatly extended by Lee’s presentation – and of course if he chooses the video continues to exist later

    A pause as I realise a/the video could be available now, and found Very interesting to hear the artist speaking, to find that he was still completing the initial drawing in sand as it was being changed by being walked upon. He speaks of impermanence, of cyclical nature (the sand will be recycled into nature after the show), more than of the violence and destruction of the war atrocity at Guernica.

    A very impressive, beautiful, thoughtful and thought-provoking work.

    Gerald Machona

    Gerald Machona

    Gerald Machona

    Gerald Machona

    Gerald Machona

    Gerald Machona

    Other work which combined physical objects and video (a frequent combination across the Biennale) was by Gerald Machona. I was initially attracted by a “space” scene – two figures in costumes and helmets, a flag with stars and stripes planted in a pile of sand. On closer inspection the costumes and flags were sewn, patchwork-like, with currency – decommissioned bank notes. On a monitor a narrative video performance screened, figures scrambling through sand dunes, passing through doorways to be transported through space, bizarrely interacting with suburban shoppers. There was a sense of dislocation, of the alien, of distorted values. I thought of imperialism, of claiming what is assumed to belong to no-one (luna nullius?)

    Talks: From Studio to Clifftop: insights into the artists and process behind Sculpture by the Sea.
    This session under the Vivid banner included talks by Sculpture by the Sea founder David Handley, curatorial panel member Michael Hill and three artists who have exhibited – Margarita Sampson, Lucy Humphrey and Dale Miles.

    Some interesting snippets

  • broad church – consider “sculpture” any 3 dimensional interaction with space
  • qualities needed in a sculptor – a mix of optimistic and realistic
  • horizon Lucy Humphrey

    Lucy Humphrey
    blogged 3-Nov-2013

  • Lucy Humphrey: interested in exploring space and light; the impact of changing weather
  • Dale Miles: own the space; consider space, ratios, scale, correspondence with the body; the relationship of the work to gravity – splayed or defying.
  • Margarita Sampson - the yearning

    Margarita Sampson – the yearning
    blogged 15-Nov-2011

  • Margarita Sampson: Co-opt the landscape into its own story; Yearning ambiguous in form – the viewer adds their own story; be aware of potentiality, interior space of work.
  • Michael Hill talked about the challenges/opportunities of the live environment – sculptors draw with shadow, and here it is constantly changing; he looks for sculpture which makes you see a place in unexpected ways, from a sculptural perspective; artists speak metaphorically.
  • The venue was the top floor of the MCA, and the talks cleverly scheduled to finish with time for a glass of wine before the light show started. Some fuzzy photos:

    Lecture: Jessica Priebe: Horace Walpole at Strawberry Hill (part of the AGNSW Collectors & Collections series).
    Jessica Priebe introduced some interesting ideas about the ways in which we see and understand things. The building, Georgian gothic revival, was a fusion of historical and current interpretation. She told a story about Walpole actually wearing the gauntlet gloves of King James the First and a limewood cravat carved by Grinling Gibbons when he (Walpole) received guests to the house. Apparently there is some damage to the back of the piece, thought to have been caused by such use, and a deliberate decision was made not to repair this – the use and the story has become another layer in the multiple meanings of the objects over time.

    Another example was a chinese urn which was transformed into a relic by its use commemorating Walpole’s drowned cat, complete with a poem, Ode on the Death of a Favourite Cat Drowned in a Tub of Goldfishes by Thomas Gray. The way in which we treat and display items becomes a part of their history and meaning.

    Collecting can be driven from different standpoints – as a gentlemanly pursuit, illustrating style and taste; of personal relics; as an antiquarian; and in the way of collecting modern art (where previously the art in a country house would be portraits of family or famous figures, perhaps prints of country estates…). My own note – this is a different perspective to that of Mark Ledbury the previous week, who finds a touch of the erotic in any personal collection.

    Exhibition: World Press Photo 16 at the State Library.
    All the photos can be seen on the World Press Photo website (link). Amazing photography, but the stories dominate. Distressing.

    Sketch 20160531

    Sketch 20160531

    1&20 sketching
    Chuck Close Leslie/Fingerprint (1986)

    Chuck Close
    Leslie/Fingerprint (1986)

    This week’s sketch took an idea seen in the Chuck Close exhibition (25-Mar-2015). Close used fingertip pressure to control shades of light and dark during the process of creating his etching.

    I used three metallic colours in a stamp-pad, finger printing onto black card. The image is based on a work by Frida Kahlo (from the front cover of the AGNSW Friends magazine – exhibition coming soon).

    It’s quite an interesting effect, especially as the card is moved around and light changes. It could look amazing on a draped fabric.

    Reading: Böhme, H. “Mythology and Aesthetics of the Textile” In Brüderlin, M (ed) (2013) Art & Textiles: Fabric as material and concept in modern art from Klimt to the present Stuttgart: Hatje Cantz Verlag

    I posted about another essay in this book 29-May-2016.

    Myths included Arachne in which weaving is a cultural technique with which a low-born woman challenged the gods, claimed her own skill. Böhme sees this as a “threshold between myth and enlightenment”. The spider as a motif is seen in the work of Rosemary Trockel and Louise Bourgeois.

    In the story of Procne and Philomena textile becomes a substitute for spoken language – it is evocative. An interesting side-note to recent thoughts about using text.

    Penelope used weaving as a form of self-assertion, getting some control while anticipating her husband’s return.

    All of these myths could be explored or could add depth to current work, but it doesn’t really fit in my thinking at the moment.

    Böhme’s discussion of threads and nets included Ariadne – her thread used to help Theseus out of labyrinth. This leads to ideas of route, vector, connect points, pre-cartographic. Hephaestus (god of technology) fashioned a net to trap Aprodite and Mars. Both of these stories trigger a response in me. Could this be used to bring grids, nets, technology, lines and stripes together?

    He also references Duchamp’s Sixteen miles of string – a “three dimensional line that develops in space”.

    Chiharu Shiota Conscious Sleep

    Chiharu Shiota
    Conscious Sleep

    Then we have thread as line “demarcation and registration, organization and rhythmization, enshrouding and unveiling, but also the engulfing and confusing, the tying and shackling of a space.” Artists mentioned are Shiota, Trokel, Annette Messager, Angela Bulloch and Eva Hesse.

    Annette Messager Chance 2011-12

    Annette Messager

    To Böhme nets are “regimes of order surrounded by disorder and endangered from within”. The structure has simplicity, economy, functional, adaptable. Is is a trapping or safety net?

    Much of this fits in with what is building as an area of investigation, but before moving to that I want to capture one more remark under the heading Garments in the medium of painting and sculpture. Böhme writes about deception and reflection in painting, trompe l’oeil, the fetishistic hiding of a scene behind a painted curtain, and then “A painting depicts something, but first and foremost it depicts itself – and this dialectic between representation and the self-staging of art that plays ironically with the tension between showing and revoking belongs to modernism.” I think I’m beginning to understand that. Something to keep in mind.

    Building to an investigation?
    Last week (29-May-2016) I wrote about a topological view of weaving, also the orthogonal structure. There’s the use of string as line.

    Reading Rosalind Krauss’s paper again led me to Sol LeWitt’s Expanding Grid – see Julia Caniglia “Dancing in “Sol LeWitt’s Expanding Grid”” [online] on the Walker Art Center blog. Caniglia finishes “The art of the late ‘70s (and perhaps the ’80s as well) could be characterized as embracing the personal, the subjective and the narrative. By incorporating those qualities into his grids, LeWitt has found a way to revitalize structures that had seemed impervious to change and that had previously been identified only with an impersonal, objective art.” I love the idea of projecting on a scrim screen, the changes of scale to the dance behind…

    Another paper on the Walker Art Center blog is “Second Thoughts: Fred Sandback and the Virtual Line” by Jordan Carter ( This lies a little further from my developing core interest. The work discussed consisted of drawings of 64 potential combinations of three lengths of yarn. Three walled spaces were used over the period of the exhibition to display sculptural realizations of the diagrams, replaced weekly with new variants. The constructions “challenge the viewer to actively engage in a dialogue with line and space.” That’s an exciting idea for a would-be sculptor. “The lines, whether emerging from the grid or floating in space, activate viewers and prompt them to imagine construction in mental space or to actually physically realize the sculptural form within architectural space.”

    All this thinking about grids and lines reminded me of my final essay for the Art History module – The Stripe. That was a way of being as close to weaving as I could in an Art History course 🙂

    In the essay I wrote of the medieval viewer, disturbed by stripes which disrupted the standard reading of levels in an image. How could a grid be disturbed or disrupted?

    I started with a piece of sacking – it had contained coffee beans. I was thinking of disrupting the reading of the grid, not the structure, so started shifting some warp threads a little. This is obviously treating “reading” literally.

    disturbed grid 1

    disturbed grid 1

    The weft threads were a little finer, but doubled in each pick, which gave more options in the simple idea. No material was being removed – just adjusted.
    disturbed grid 2

    disturbed grid 2

    The structure was disturbed – not just the visual, but the tightness and rigidity of the fabric. It became softer and more dimensional.
    disturbed grid 3

    disturbed grid 3

    Another way of disrupting reading could be by adding material that disturbed the image. My favourite plastic horsehair came into play. I experimented with different numbers of threads in each intervention, watching the impact change.
    disturbed grid 4

    disturbed grid 4

    The additions worked to stabilise the grid, returning some rigidity and also highlighting the nature of the weave visually. This new emphasis helps to further disrupt the original text.
    disturbed grid 5

    disturbed grid 5

    Given past experience with the plastic thread, it was natural to play with the grid once more, looping up sections.
    disturbed grid 6

    disturbed grid 6

    I like the way the grid is emphasized even seen at an angle, as the loops stride back and across the work.
    disturbed grid 7

    disturbed grid 7


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