Archive for October, 2016

Weekly roundup 23 October 2016

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

Drawing
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.

Collage
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…

Lectures
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 & Bäuerlen. 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

Adelaide

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.

Collage
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.

    Basketry
    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

    Collage
    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

    Detail

    Detail

    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.
    basketry_20161001
    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.


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