Archive for May, 2017

Soft sculpture Twining and more

Judy Dominic, wrapping up two days of exploration

The highlight of recent days was a workshop with Judy Dominic – Soft Sculpture Twining – organised by Basketry NSW.

Two days, two apparently simple techniques – twining and a ribbing/edging – , two weights of seagrass cord, infinite possibilities.

The combination of material and technique produced a malleable fabric that could be turned, punched, folded, stretched out of shape… Spokes and weavers were moved as needed. As long as you have the length, you have options. And if you need to, you can always add length in different ways.

Judy moved around the class constantly, encouraging, supporting, challenging. One piece-in-progress, and in discussion there were possibilities for a few years’ investigation.

Class work

A general photo doesn’t capture the individuality, the wide range of responses of the participants. A few highlights below (click on a photo for a larger view):

I concentrated on a sampler of options rather than finished work. Two samples in fact, which then were joined, twisted and pummeled, pulled into a possibility for the group display, and since partly dismantled so I can keep playing.


Next will be trying out some ideas using some of my more familiar materials. It will be interesting to see how that changes the performance of the results.

Exhibition
Adman: Warhol before popAGNSW

Andy Warhol
Progressive Piano (hands on piano keys)

The exhibition is huge, lots of photos and ephemera from Warhol’s life as well as his work.

I followed my eye.

Warhol’s blotted line technique results in some fascinating lines, sometimes strong, sometimes tentative, with rhythms and hesitations that had me holding my breath as I followed them across the page.
The use of collage, especially in blocks of colour that draw the eye and emphasize areas without directly responding the the lines, is particularly exciting.

Andy Warhol
Marbleized paper (detail)

The AGNSW website has videos demonstrating a number of Warhol’s techniques, including blotted-line and marbleizing. Definitely techniques I would like to explore myself. I’ve challenged myself with collage in the past (see for example 22-Sep-2016 and 31-Dec-2016 – it doesn’t come naturally to me), and combining it with a monotype-ish technique would be an interesting extension.

Andy Warhol, Julia Warhola
‘It’s a real genuine fake’

Text is another excitement in many of the displayed works, most the work of Warhol’s mother Julia Warhola. It brings a level of detail, intricacy, and draws the viewer in to read and see more. There’s more of the quirky individuality, like the blotted lines, where smooth flowing progression is replaced by a fragmenting rhythm, syncopated, stretching, bending, crowding unevenly down the page. (OK, so the example shown isn’t the most extreme on a number of those counts).

Andy Warhol
Cosmetics

Cosmetics combines lines and dynamic forms brought together with transparent colours, some duller, following the drawn line, others brighter, linking and framing.

I wasn’t expecting to like this exhibition, not “serious” enough perhaps, but I’ve been back a couple of times and felt invigorated, energized by it. It’s in its last days, so you’ll need to hurry.

Dance
Orb Sydney Dance Company

Two newly commissioned dance pieces, one with beautiful costumes and flowing, rippling movement, the other more street gritty, confined, with an amazing sequence of bodies weaving in space.

Had me thinking about what “rhythm” means.

Talks
All part of the AGNSW lecture series Site Specific: The power of place.

Jane Messenger: “Soap suds and white wash: JMW Turner and the Sea”
Turner’s innovation and his influence on other artists such as Monet and Pissaro were interesting, but what has stayed with me are the closing two paintings, one from early in Turner’s career, one late, both showing a vortex of ships, water, spray.

Dr Ruth Pullin: “Eugene von Guérard and Cape Schanck”
Von Guérard was a traveller with an ability to quickly discerne the essence of a place, and an eye for seeing the picture in nature. He was also a man of his time, interested in geology and other science, a convergence of the romantic (the enormity of space) and the scientific (accurate topology). Seeing sketchbook and finished works is always illuminating, especially the open air painting in the German tradition, oil studies rather than a standard sketchbook.

Von Guérard spent just 30 of his 90 years in Australia, 1852 – 1882. I knew him as a painter of Australia and New Zealand. It was odd to see early work, from his extensive training in Germany and Italy, showing his intimate knowledge of the Neander Valley.

While writing this post I came across the abstract of Ruth Pullin’s PhD thesis (link). Impossible to follow up everything 😦

Dr Alison Inglis: “Sir John Everett Millais – the allure of Scotland”
The paintings we looked at showed an emotional sincerity, psychological spaces, collapsing perspective, slightly flattened space and emphasis of silhouettes.

Sometimes. The paintings also showed a journey of technique and style, to a much lesser extent of subject, over the course of a lifetime’s work. That doesn’t make it less sincere, a young man controversial and anti-establishment, the older man president of the Royal Academy of Arts – the establishment. A sell-out or bolder? Does it matter? – focus on the work.

Dr Chiara O’Reilly: “Barbizon and Jean François Millet”
Something noble can be made of the humblest of life.

O’Reilly argued that in Millet’s works, even those apparently empty of human figures, there is a theme of labour, of the shaping and defining of the land by humans. In many pictures of course the figure(s) are strong, powerful, dominating – The Sower, in ways The Gleaners. The figures of the poorest are given dignity by the attention Millet gives, the scale, layering the real with memory and inspiration.

As a textile person I need to point out the knitting – much knitting. We’ve lost touch with the cost, the effort, of clothing ourselves.

Trial and error

… although all is trial and learning, nothing is error when playing ??

Sugar tong and resin

The sugar-tong-end earrings seen last week got new inserts. These started as sample p3-45 in the Mixed Media for Textiles course (23-Sep-2015), threads partially embedded in a thin sheet of resin.

Sample p3-45

It turns out this stuff is easy to cut, sand and drill, and as I noted back then the thread effect is particularly effective when backlit.

I wore the earrings in this form for a day, but they still looked like wearing spoons. Shortening the stem has helped, and this may well be the final version – although it’s a powerful realisation than anything can be taken apart and used as components elsewhere.

Sugar tong ends and resin – final version?

Agapanthus earrings

These agapanthus earrings aren’t going anywhere in this iteration. They’re based on a component in a proto-neckpiece done in Keith Lo Bue’s class (23-Apr-2017). They just look clumsy and lumpen. Less energy, less joy. The idea’s time will come, one day.

Finally a piece in progress. It’s a larger, hopefully refined version of a sample seen 23-Apr-2017. Almost all the material is in there. Now it’s a matter of finessing the form, doing a little more forging, and then major polishing. Hours of fun ahead 🙂

Cold forged and random woven steel in progress

Making and unmaking

After

Before

A potential joy of my current type of making is the unmaking. Who knew a redundant electricity meter had such interesting and very nicely made things in it? Most of it went into the stash for now, but a few components have been re-purposed…

New stand, reworked earrings

… into a new stand for earring photography.

Ceramic and steel earrings – previous version

The earrings shown have been seen previously (23-Apr-2017), and since then have received smaller jump rings and a good polishing. The details make a big difference.

Welded and random weave

Oddly, when I enrolled in Keith Lo Bue’s classes (also 23-Apr-2017) I was focused on learning more about the reo wire I was already using in random weave (the ongoing welded and woven piece) and other basketry projects, and to develop some comfort using found objects. It was a surprise to see the class signposted as “jewellery”. As luck would have it, I am a long term wearer and collector of dangly earrings, and earrings are a great subject for practicing my new skills. Happy days 🙂

Earlier sugar tong earrings

The next making is on-going. This started as the end sections of some sugar tongs (the handle section has been seen previously – yet again 23-Apr-2017). A long process – so a short photo essay. I’m still mulling over the final inserts – the photo looks better than life.

Next up some wire work, inspired by a spiral pendant by Alexander Calder (pictured here).

The version on the right is the basic form. The one on the left has been cold forged (so slightly more polished and faceted, catching some light) and the lower section twisted to enhance three dimensionality. A bit heavy, and neither is good enough to become jewellery – maybe tree ornaments. More practice needed, and perhaps a finer gauge wire.

Exhibitions
Briefly…
Textiles out of Context, Braemar Gallery Springwood
This was a varied exhibition, showcasing a wide variety of textile disciplines.

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Ellen King’s Etosha was inspired by her travels. Great expertise shown in this work, the felting, the intricate dyeing. I like the way imagery has been abstracted, such as the tracks of animals to a waterhole, and extending the work to include both wall-hanging and bowl.
Variation in technique, and so scale, creates interest in Jillian Culey’s piece. One of the aspects I appreciate about basketry techniques is the opportunity to play with shadow, giving depth and richness.

Saskia Everingham
Light Seeds

Saskia Everingham’s Light Seeds has an elegance and scale that attracted a lot of attention at the opening. The work was serene on its low plinth, with no evidence of the practical issues of how the lights were powered. It simply glowed.

Sadhana Peterson
By The Water Hole

The combination of ceramic and basketry techniques in this work felt unforced and fully integrated. Colours and lines complimented each other, creating a complex and satisfying whole.

Pam de Groot
Fully Charged

The bright colour and lively movement of Pam de Groot’s felt work brought a moment of joy.

The National 2017
This new biennial survey involves three major Sydney galleries and aims to present the latest in Australian art. In initial visits to AGNSW and MCA I was attracted to some works which used repetition and variation on a massive scale, underpinned by serious symbolism.

Yhonnie Scarce
Death Zephyr

Yonnie Scarce’s installation references the Maralinga atomic tests and the displacement of Aboriginal communities. The hand-blown glass forms, suggestive of people or bush food, move slightly in random air currents, gently clinking – so fragile, so precious.

A midden, sign of long residence of Aboriginal communities, in a bed of copper slag, sign of the mining and commercial activities given priority today, tainting and destroying the land. The “myths and methods of colonisation” (quoting from AGNSW signage) continue.

Other works that grabbed my attention claimed space, approaching an idea from multiple directions.

Found rubber, galvanised steel, and bark – all incised by Gunybi Ganambarr in intricate patterns based on sacred clan designs. Forms echo. A history of use and misuse of the land.

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Gary Carsley’s installation was complex and included sound and video. Signage at the MCA references the artist’s investigations of what he regards as the artifice of European-Australian culture. I’m still thinking about this, wondering how it fits or challenges my understanding of my own heritage. A quick internet search turned up the definition “clever or cunning devices or expedients, especially as used to trick or deceive others”. Is my culture more rapacious, more contrived, less valuable than any other culture? I don’t want to accept that, and I don’t think I would want to categorize another’s culture in that way. Deep, ongoing flaws – yes. Dreadful damage done to others – yes. Artifice? Artifice as the sum total or dominant element of a culture? No.

I was very taken with a mixed media installation by Nell at MCA. No photos yet.

There have been a couple of lectures, bits and pieces, but I think that brings me as close to up to date as I’m going to get.


Instagram

Goodyer girls long weekend in Hobart

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