Archive for September, 2017

First stabile and other making

After initial attempts making mobiles (20-Aug-2017), I’ve moved on to a stabile. I’d never heard of them before starting Keith Lo Bue‘s Poetry in Motion: making marvelous mobiles DVD workshop. They balance just like a mobile, but instead of being suspended they pivot on a table-based stand.

So here in all its glory, full of blemishes but actually working … (drumroll) …

Galvanised wire and corrugated cardboard.

Gregory Hodge
Mime

I had some idea of making a variety of shapes and painting them, then drawing/painting the result (following Gregory Hodge – see 31-Aug-2017). Perhaps as well weights could be inserted in the cardboard, causing some apparent “impossibilities” in balancing.

The stabile isn’t right. Some clumsy connections that don’t hang well, the main balance is tilting to the side, obviously I haven’t gone on to painting, the “design” (let’s be kind) is awkward with parts hitting each other and the central support. Still, fundamentally it works!

I still think there are possibilities with the cardboard, but another idea has come up that loops around to experiments from a year or two back. More to be done 🙂

In other news, the ceramic earrings seen in progress 13-Aug-2017 are finally resolved, after multiple attempts. I’d rate them as OK, wearable, but not exciting. It was a good opportunity to play with wire, and a library of shapes is gradually building up.

Neolithic twining??

Neolithic twining? A video on Lanny Mackenzie’s instagram feed had me intrigued. I’m not sure my attempt is the same, but regardless it’s interesting. Unlike most weaving and basketry which structurally use two sets of elements – warp / rib and weft / weavers – this technique uses a single set of elements. Each length of material (yarn, wire, whatever – let’s call it “end”) follows the same pattern as every other. In her class Judy Dominic showed us that the same end can change function, a rib changing to weaver or vice versa. Neolithic twining, or whatever it is I ended up with, goes further – no differentiation. What possibilities does this bring? How could it be exploited?

Later edit: just so I remember: working end goes over 2 (a and b) and under 2. new working end is b. repeat.

Modernist Season at Sydney Living Museums

The Moderns: European Designers in Sydney at Museum of Sydney shows the work of a large, inter-connected group of émigrés working in Sydney in the 1930s to 1960s. Architects, interior designers, furniture makers, photographers, commentators, they brought European modernism, fresh ideas, vitality and some controversy (that last they didn’t necessarily bring).

From the museum website: Discover the vitality of this community, their stories of achievement, loss, adaptation and ingenuity in this celebration of both the richness that migration brings and the diverse history of our city – a timely reminder as history cycles. Writing this I reflect back on Godwin Yidana’s words on circles, connectedness and how all both give and receive (31-Jul-2017).

George Reves
Schwartz House

The exhibition includes plans, photographs and drawing, plus a series of vignettes set up so you can appreciate the whole design in context – furniture, rugs, artwork etc. Often the furniture was designed as an integral part of the architecture.

Rose Seidler House
Photo: NewFormula

Architect Harry Seidler must be one of the best know today of this group. A week ago I went on the SLM Donna & Brian Seidler House tour & talk.

Rose Seidler House
Photo: Marcel Seidler

The talk was in the lounge room of Rose Seidler House, another SLM property. The house is actually one of three built here, all intended for different members of Seidler’s family. The talk was given by Brian Seidler (Harry’s cousin) and focused on the recent (ongoing) restoration of Julian Rose House (originally intended for Harry’s uncle Marcel, who took the photo of Rose Seidler House shown to the right).

The care, attention and challenging choices of the renovation / restoration are amazing. The house had been extended and remodeled by owners over the years, not always sensitively or even soundly in engineering terms. Inappropriate additions, such as thick concrete pad and quarry tiles, have been removed. Damaged structure has as far as possible been repaired. “As far as possible” – there’s the rub. This isn’t a museum, it needs to function as a home. Some of the “modern” materials are no longer available, or aren’t safe, or … For example light plates. Authentic ones from the period may be sourced, but do they meet modern standards? If not, can or should the internal wiring be replaced but the old plate used?

Robert MacPherson
White/black (Arago)

Yesterday I wrote about White/black (Arago) by Robert MacPherson, the theory than can underpin four quadrilaterals in different mixes of white and black. In the small bathroom of Julian Rose House, five different tiles are used. One for the floor, then one on each wall – black, white, grey, ivory. It’s all about light – white tiles on the wall facing the window, to bounce light around. Black on the wall under the window, etc. And tiles of the right size and colours had to be sourced. And each tile needed matching grout… The level of passion and commitment was awe-inspiring.

Harry Seidler
Brian & Donna Seidler House

After the talk Brian led us on a walk – first through the nearly-finished work of Julian Rose House, and then on to what was Marcus Seidler House, and is now the home of Brian Seidler, his wife and their children.

Here again the passion and commitment comes through. It’s not easy living in a 1950s Modern house when you are determined to maintain its heritage. These houses are small. This one has been extended twice, with the involvement of Harry Seidler and later his company, but is still not large by modern standards (you can see some info on the last extension on the website of Harry Seidler & Associates). The main bedroom opens directly from the lounge area. The fridge is limited in size by the fitout of the original kitchen. The colour scheme, walls, curtains, everything, is determined by the architects. It is beautiful. It is a gem. Only very rare and amazing people would be prepared to do it. And on top of this they give talks and occasionally allow strangers to traipse through their home. It was a real privilege to visit.

MCA

What a difference a day makes! Yesterday at the Art Gallery of NSW I was entranced by a series of galleries filled by Mikala Dwyer. Today I was at the Museum of Contemporary Art, saw an installation by the same artist, and was left bemused, un-engaged. I was visiting with my mother and we spent a lot of time on this Untitled 1992-1994 – there seemed to be lots of recognisable bits, things that should be a hook. But in the end, beige. Just some stuff.

Mikala Dwyer
Untitled 1992-1994 (detail)

That’s mum in the distance, working hard at it. The artist certainly “made us look”, if that was the point.

Blue Peter Rabbits, so maybe a child’s room, domestic, personal, protective. A minor play with architecture – a column leaning on a trestle, another made of a stack of dinner plates (domestic??).

Mikala Dwyer

A series of tables (baby change tables?) the soft foam inside encased in sheets of perspex, the supports bandaged. A reversal of softness, protection, warm enfolding? Above some perspex containers of coloured liquid or gell. Some plastic ziplock bags of similar stuff was stapled to a column. Blank.

Mikala Dwyer

A bit more detail of the posts wrapped with sheets, electric blanket etc. Plates (?) and bed pans wrapped on the wall. One package had me thinking of Christo’s dead trees at AGNSW, which to me just accentuates the long past demise of the trees. Otherwise nothing.

Reading more at home, the gallery write up talks about child’s bedroom, the vulnerable body, comfort and healing. So we got some of it, we just didn’t feel it.

Perhaps partly because it wasn’t immersive, we weren’t entering its environment. The work is stretched along one side of gallery. Along the wall opposite are some strong works including Sally Smart’s The craftiest of eyes (borrowed dress) (last mentioned 26-Nov-2016). Dwyer’s work is “untitled”, unlike those I saw yesterday. The cheap quip is “perhaps the artist didn’t feel too involved in the end either, not even discovering a name”.

(Later edit – perhaps it was that the suggestions from Dwyer were too strong, but to me unclear. I wasn’t free to think my own thoughts, as in the AGNSW works, but I couldn’t enter her’s.)

Robert MacPherson
White/black (Arago)

Further along the same long wall was White/black (Arago) by Robert MacPherson. Austere, exploring what a painting is. Various mixes and finishes of black and white, each canvas apparently the dimensions that MacPherson could reach with hand and paintbrush. Pure minimalist aesthetic.

I find it satisfying – the considered experimentation, clarity of thought and means, theoretical concerns about the nature of art, yet the physical person of the artist so present. I’ll be referring back to this work too, when I finally get to writing about the Seidler houses.

Gordon Bennett
Number Nine

Gordon Bennett
detail

It’s not surprising Gordon Bennett’s work Number Nine caught my eye, given a longstanding interest in stripes (see research posts and paper written for college).

In this instance Bennett was claiming his place as an artist, no adjectives necessary, art about art, not boxed in by our preconceptions based on his Indigenous heritage – though I think it shows as integral to the man, in his choice of colour and possibly a shield-like motif. The paint is controlled, textured, tactile, on the surface of the canvas.


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