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 – https://vimeo.com/108139017.

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 http://acms.sl.nsw.gov.au/album/albumView.aspx?itemID=891757&acmsid=0. 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 sculpturebythesea.com/gallery/.

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: www.smh.com.au/entertainment/about-town/cottesloe-beach-sculptures-created-straight-from-the-art-20150227-13qpk1.html, /www.contemporaryau.com/people/qa-jennifer-cochrane/

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 (www.madelineclare.com/sculpture.html) 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 https://www.academia.edu/25680726/Tactile_Beginnings_Barbara_Kasten_2015_ (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.

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