13 November 2016

An amazing week which I’ll be processing for a long time. So overwhelming it was “October” in the first published version!

Masterclass with Ruth Hadlow – Creative Research: reading, writing & material investigations.
There’s an extensive writeup 25-Feb-2016 of a two day workshop with Ruth, Articulating Pracice: exploring the interior terrain. What I learnt then has been very influential on my work since then, and this five day class was one of the lynchpins of my self-directed study plan (15-Sep-2016).

It didn’t disappoint. My understanding was refreshed, deepened, extended.

Note taking styles in the class

Note taking styles in the class

A particular joy was the individual conversations conducted in group sessions (there was no time for those in the shorter format). There were ten of us in the class, diverse practices and experience. After an exercise we gathered and one by one talked about our exploration, discoveries. Ruth would listen, then check – not so much that she understood, but that we understood ourselves. A particular word used – what exactly did we mean? She has a finely honed expertise in identifying the critical words, the ones that when unpacked shed light or suggested new directions or questions. Next there were references to reading or other artists, suggestions of questions we could ask ourselves. It was a privilege to share in the richness and warmth and intelligence and creativity of each of my fellow participants.

More learning from the course will become apparent as I work through my notes, but for now I want to record something … a thought still forming so tentative, personal so wouldn’t normally be written here, but which is relevant and I don’t want to slide away and get lost. First background: Ruth’s process involves mining various terrains to identify things that attract which can be worked into a brief of exploration. Keeping specific and attentive, making sideways movements, possibly meandering, the starting point is known while the ending point remains provisional. The initial points of reference could come from objects, art practices, texts, traditions, materials, various more including lived experience. In the past I would tend to avoid lived experience – in a childhood that was in many ways wonderful there was a dark thread that has overshadowed. On Wednesday, responding to the amazing richness and depth in my fellows, I noted “I need to discover / acknowledge the riches of my own knowledge”. On Thursday, on excursion to AGNSW, in an 1873 handscroll by Kôno Bairei I identified as key to me a branch of blossom and noted the associated information of a happy early memory from our backyard. It wasn’t until Friday afternoon that I noticed the word Blossom. That word, that particular word, would once have triggered the deepest, darkest rage and frustration. And I hadn’t even noticed it. Now Sunday, and puzzling over how this could be, it seems the memories hadn’t been repressed or resolved or dealt with or whatever else … it’s just a long time ago, I’ve got a lot more positive and negative experience, I understand more about the past situation, and I have perspective. Finally to the points I want to take forward: I can access that richness of lived experience, without hiding from or wallowing in the negative. And maybe it’s time to make conscious some default behaviours that made sense in that past but have well outlived any usefulness.

Visit to AGNSW
On the masterclass excursion we were given a brief to wander and scan, to select two or three works that attracted us, to list what we could see, to note associations, to nominate key points, to do a short piece of writing in response. Generative activities that can feed into a new brief and exploration. In a small step towards using writing in my investigations, here I’ll limit myself to some photographs and the text (triggered by my observation and reflection, not directly the works).

Tatiana Trouve Untitled 2012

Sent to the corner in disgrace. Expelled, hidden, overlooked.
Assert. Make your presence felt. Swell, Demand, Command the space you need.

Luke Parker Entrance to the underworld 2014

Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud. Pulling, demanding, forcing notice.
Look at this. Thud.
Here it is again. Thud.
Outlined – see? Thud. Thud.

I look. I search. Puzzle? No, it’s there to find. This goes with that.
Don’t worry – the net will catch you.

Kôno Bairei Trip to Lake Biwa (1873)

Kôno Bairei  Trip to Lake Biwa (detail) (1873)

Kôno Bairei
Trip to Lake Biwa (detail) (1873)

Kôno Bairei  Trip to Lake Biwa (detail) (1873)

Kôno Bairei
Trip to Lake Biwa (detail) (1873)

Kôno Bairei  Trip to Lake Biwa (detail) (1873)

Kôno Bairei
Trip to Lake Biwa (detail) (1873)

Kôno Bairei  Trip to Lake Biwa (detail) (1873)

Kôno Bairei
Trip to Lake Biwa (detail) (1873)

Kôno Bairei  Trip to Lake Biwa (detail) (1873)

Kôno Bairei
Trip to Lake Biwa (detail) (1873)

Flashes of memory flicker, taunt.
We were going to … was it a lake? A lake that fed the hydro-electric scheme.
Migrants came, hollowed out the mountain. Gleaming huge metal turbines. Wide loads moved slowly along the roads – houses displaced, cut, loaded and carried. Children’s wallpaper exposed to the elements.

This week was single point perspective. Rather technical, and an unfortunate contrast to masterclass discussion this week which had an extraordinarily broad understanding of “drawing” as a verb and paid little mind to “drawing” as a noun and suggesting a representation.

Nicholas Chambers Robert and Ethel Scull: Pop collectors (part of the AGNSW Collectors & Collections series)

The theme of this series has proved very interesting. This lecture included a couple of segments of film from the 1973 auction of some of the Scull’s collection and its aftermath, during which Robert Rauschenberg shoved Scull, complaining of his (Scull’s) profit on his (Rauschenberg’s) “working his ass off”. Surrounding footage shows the more complicated relationship, with Rauschenberg describing Scull as an angel for his early support of artists when no-one else was buying.

The use of the market, the profiting from artists, was used in part to support new artists and work that was resistant to the market such as Michael Heizer’s exploration of earthworks.

Robert Scull spent a lot of time in artists’ studios, watching them work, sometimes buying paintings before they were finished. A quote from his New York Times obituary:
When an interviewer asked about accusations that he bought art for investment and for social climbing, Mr. Scull responded, ”It’s all true. I’d rather use art to climb than anything else.”

Seed Stitch Collective Light
After our day at AGNSW a number of us went to the opening of this exhibition by the Seed Stitch Collective, shown at Barometer gallery.

Suzanne Davey Reaching for the Moon (as far as the eye can see)

Suzanne Davey
Reaching for the Moon (as far as the eye can see)

A very interesting opening address was given by Belinda von Mengersen – more than I could absorb in that environment, but she has agreed to send me a soft copy so perhaps more on that later. Certainly the myriad ways of responding to light and the particular depth of responses facilitated by use of textiles was one of the themes explored by both Belinda and by the members of the collective.

Shown on the right is a work by Suzanne Davey. I was very pleased to have the opportunity to meet and chat with her. We’ve briefly corresponded in the past when Suzanne contacted me through this blog.

Suzanne Davey

Suzanne Davey

I’m chuffed to think that people find my writing here useful. My primary audience is myself – writing each post is a part of reflecting on my experiences, and searching and reading on it is a vital support to my memory. Still, it’s encouraging to know I’m not only talking to myself and I enjoy the feeling of being connected to a wider community.

I was drawn to Suzanne’s work as a freely hanging sculpture, the layers of translucent fabrics responding beautifully and variably to the light from the large window behind. In this work, her materials and techniques, Suzanne has combined ideas related to light, to the moon as talisman and in narratives, to the domestic and to the body.

Gillian Lavery Alight, within (detail)

Gillian Lavery
Alight, within (detail)

Gillian Lavery Alight, within (detail)

Gillian Lavery
Alight, within (detail)

Alight, within by Gillian Lavery was hung in the other window. Working on rice paper, stitching slightly raised, with additional markings on the window pane itself, this piece also makes light an active collaborator in the work. The use of the fabric of the gallery, the dimensional and shifting effect created as you moved and perspective changed, brought a sense of immediacy and expanded space. A different connection to space and place is suggested in the choice of paper and the scroll-reminiscent hanging system, and confirmed in the artist’s statement with a reference to a residency undertaken in Japan. Both sides of the paper are exposed to view, the work of stitching, threads and knots, revealed.

Deep Dirt Collective You will not be easily erased

Members of Deep Dirt Collective working in Stirrup Gallery

Members of Deep Dirt Collective working in Stirrup Gallery

This was a collaborative live-work installation, six women working together at Stirrup Gallery in Marrickville. It was personal, political, proud.

Over 6 days the Collective gathered, working together with earth (clay), turmeric, coffee, henna, paper, thread and cloth… and time. They take time, yet act with a sense of urgency.

Deep Dirt Collective Detail of wall of counting marks, the only text "for the nameless dead..."

Deep Dirt Collective
Detail of wall of counting marks, the only text “for the nameless dead…”

My words are not needed here. They speak for themselves.

Deep Dirt Collective
We are telling our own stories and resisting dominant culture.
We are activating our intuition and healing historical traumas.
We are honouring our ancestral roots on our own terms and in our own languages.
We are sparking strategies for dismantling the constructs of gender and colonialism.
We are transgressive makers of culture.
We are Samara Shehata, Samia Sayed, Priya Panchalingam, Zeina Iaali, Salwa El-Shaikh and Nicole Barakat.

Primrose Paper Arts Open Day

Mandy demonstrating

Mandy demonstrating joomchi

On Saturday I visited the Primrose Paper Arts 25th Anniversary Open Day. There was lots happening with demonstrations of calligraphy, joomchi, book making, paper making, collage and card making, origami…

As well as the fun of watching and joining in the making, it was very pleasant to catch up with a number of friends and to meet others with similar interests. In fact every event covered in this post involved large amounts of interacting with people. I’m quite a solitary person, very happy with my own company. Probably the majority of the excursions I write up in this blog I undertake alone, and most of the rest would be with one other – either my mother or a close friend. I’ll happily chat with those I encounter, share stories while sharing a lunch table or while waiting for something to start, but that’s a bit different. It’s a little surprising that I’ve coped with this week, although there was some balance with considerable periods of individual work throughout the masterclass. Is there something to learn from this? Perhaps just that some variety is not a bad thing.

untethered fibre artists ebb and flow
untethered fibre artists are a group within the Australian Textile Arts & Surface Design Association (ATASDA). I’ve been a member of ATASDA in the past, so once again personally know many of the artists exhibiting and enjoyed meeting up with those manning this exhibition at the Wallarobba Arts and Cultural Centre in Hornsby.

Fiona Hammond Faded Glories:  The Ebbing of Ancient Archaeological Wonders

Fiona Hammond
Faded Glories: The Ebbing of Ancient Archaeological Wonders

Fiona Hammond Alternative Viewpoints

Fiona Hammond
Alternative Viewpoints

I was attracted to the strong colours and animated forms of Fiona Hammond’s collection of coiled and stitched pots. While reminiscent of the shapes of coiled clay pots that may have been used in antiquity, the colours and eccentric but complete forms appear to me very modern. I cannot see dilapidation and the display as group does not suggest desolation.

Although I don’t feel those associations I was interested in the work itself – in addition to aesthetics I expect this is due to my current interest in basketry and a similarity in form to some of my own recent explorations (2-Oct-2016).basketry_20161001. There’s even the ombre shading.

I was very interested in Fiona’s second work, Alternative Viewpoints. Photographs of the Faded Glories vessels, taken from a variety of perspectives, were printed, collaged, stitched. This technique allowed Fiona to document multiple viewpoints, both physical and emotional, to her work and the process of making it. This sideways move into other media, which also incorporated elements of the original material (wool) and techniques (stitch), added depth and richness. It allowed Fiona to explore different emotions – after sad reflections on deterioration during the making of the vessels, this re-interpretation and re-staging gave the opportunity for her to appreciate the aesthetic beauty of the forms she had created. This seems to resonate with my own response to her first work. When Fiona became viewer rather than maker, her experience of the work changed.

Jane Bodnaruk Book of rope

Jane Bodnaruk
Book of rope

Jane Bodnaruk Rope Journey

Jane Bodnaruk
Rope Journey

I was looking forward to seeing Jane Bodnaruk’s works, having followed their journey on her blog http://epocktextiles.blogspot.com.au/.

“Journey” is the significant word. The rope making was done over 258 days – the time taken for the First Fleet’s journey from Portsmouth to Port Jackson 1787 – 1788. The performative aspect of the work was reinforced by Jane’s finishing the work during the exhibition opening. She has deliberately undertaken a task that was tedious, repetitive (to the extent of causing injury and requiring a change of technique), personal and humble in scale on a day to day basis but building into something epic. Looking up at the thick looped strands I was reminded of a judge in his wig – a random thought but very appropriate to the theme of the work.

The documentation that Jane produced during the work – a book with a sketch of the rope in each of the 37 weeks, and her blog – adds dimension to the work. In the project overall time is made visible, concrete. I think the process was deeply meaningful to Jane as an artist and as a woman – an aspect of her practice that I’d like to reflect on further.

I would like to present more but time has caught me as usual. I was impressed by this exhibition – individual works, the exhibition as a whole and the way the group is maturing.

A moderate amount of risk taking in this post. Any responses welcome.

5 Responses to “13 November 2016”

  1. 1 Jane Bodnaruk November 13, 2016 at 9:12 pm

    wow, you had a huge week

  1. 1 27 November 2016 | Fibres of Being Trackback on November 27, 2016 at 6:41 pm
  2. 2 Germination I and II – in Basketry NSW Transformation exhibition | Fibres of Being Trackback on June 30, 2017 at 4:07 pm
  3. 3 Exhibition: Make Your Mark | Fibres of Being Trackback on October 14, 2018 at 5:33 pm

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