Items of interest

Go Tad!

What happened to December? I blinked and it was gone. Work was particularly busy. There was a graduation. Given the time of year there were plenty of social and family gatherings. That leads to my first blog-able item.

John Chester Jervis’s earrings
First blogged 6-Jul-2018, that pesky time vanished and it was the day before our major family Christmas dinner that I finished the final few sets.

I dressed up some little white boxes for presentation, gluing on papers matched to either recipient or earring.

I’ve checked the family tree. JCJ was the brother of my grandmother’s grandmother. It was fun to share some family history.

Plain weave and twining copper vessel

Side and bottom views

Somehow missed in my last post, a small vessel in copper. It’s basically the same as the blue and green waxed hemp twine piece shown 11-Dec-2018 – but prettier.

Twinned copper vessel

Motivated in part by trying to understand my strong and negative emotional response to a recent exhibition (18-Nov-2018), in part by the future need to have an explanation or story about myself for the upcoming creative research program, I’ve been some purposeful reading, thinking and writing. It’s a work in progress (and always will be), but a few dot points:

* The line – Still need to write about the current Tony Tuckson exhibition at AGNSW. The quality of line is fascinating. The exhibition catalogue led me on to the “gestural calligraphy” of Pierre Soulages, then on to the rhythm, line and structure of Chiang Yee.

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Paul Klee gets a mention of course.
Stroke, mark, line – for me dimensional in space, and based on the body – my own movement in making, and the form derived in some way from the body.

* Chance and intent. See Matt Bromhead for this (10-Jul-2018). In the Tuckson catalogue Denise Mimmocchi writes “Tuckson’s sketchbooks reveal that their overall forms were often considered, but the paintings appear deeply anchored to their rapid moment of execution, and the Bacchanalian rush of colour” (p. 52). Aida Tomescu finds “an essential link between the precise readjustments, the measured approach and the final open structure, which has a feel of utmost spontaneity and improvisation” (p. 76). Matt’s process was to look at the result of play, adding touches to bring elegance and decorum.

* Space. Here a link generated by reading Textile Perspectives in Mixed-Media Sculpture by Jac Scott. Chicka Ohgi looks at the interface between the space and the objects. She works “not knowing the consequence of [her] actions”, which are only revealed in installation in a space.

* Haptic – bodily experience, textile background. In Part Object Part Sculpture Briony Fer considers the Italian neo-avant-garde in the 1950s and the “literal materiality of a thing” (p. 51). I’m still reading in that section, so more another day, but the work of Alberto Burri and Lucio Fontana is very exciting.

* Sensuous | Austerity. Mimmocchi writes of the “sensuous line work” of Tuckson, and the “austerity” of the compositions of Barnett Newman. I am not comfortable with the sensuous – perhaps the convent school education lingers – but I think challenging myself here could be productive. In her foreword to Part Object Part Sculpture Sherri Geldin writes “Deftly dodging the plethora of industrially replicated machinations known as Minimalism, Helen [Molesworth] follows the more sensuous, tactile, and handmade impulse that simultaneously coursed through sculptural production over the last fifty years” (p. 11).

* Enough, not everything. Tomescue: Tuckson “uses absence and the incomplete form” (p.77). It’s amazing what the human eye can do, leaps of interpretation. Plus make the viewer work, invest in looking, participate.

Jac Scott
Image from Textile Perspectives in Mixed Media Sculpture

* The pivot, balance point, precipice, knife edge, danger, unbalance
A conversation with a friend months ago has led to ongoing reflection on what this could mean.

Jac Scott uses an image of her own work in a chapter on plaster. Perhaps more elegant and controlled than what’s in my head. There’s no sense of danger. Plus I’d prefer free-standing.

Orpheus (Maquette 2) (Version II) 1956, edition 1959 Dame Barbara Hepworth

Scott mentions Barbara Hepworth in the Metal chapter. Again elegant and controlled. I like the use of folded metal as a construction approach. Also there is tension in the strings which gives a sense of potential energy stored. Could there be a snap and a spring and an unravelling?

Louise Bourgeoise Observer

Helen Molesworth writes of Louise Bourgeois’s body of work entitled Personages: “Each work displays the same tenuous sense of balance, as they grow increasingly slender toward the bottom, and seem precariously placed on flat metal bases” (p. 39).

Over the weeks I’ve identified a circling, a repetition and revisiting of ideas which at times felt suffocating, instead of my usual sense of enriching. As I get deeper that question of stagnation has faded. Currents are reappearing, but in new combinations and with different emphases.

Part of the regrouping has been a simple matter of seeing. Over the summer break I have bought shelving – storage shelves, bookcase, but in particular some display shelves. I now sit surrounded by work done over the last decade and more. I can see recurring threads, and ongoing change and experimentation. Most of the base building work was finished yesterday, but I’m still going through boxes, trying out what I want to see for now.

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My workroom is the-room-formerly-known-as-the-dining-room, and most but not all of the objects visible are my work.

Learning brief
As part of the research and reflection I’ve developed a little brief for experimentation. It’s ongoing, so more on that another day.

Mimmocchi, D., 2018. Tuckson. Sydney, Australia: Art Gallery of New South Wales.
Molesworth, H., 2005. Part Object Part Sculpture. Penn State University Press.
Scott, J., 2003. Textile Perspectives in Mixed-Media Sculpture. Crowood Press, Limited.
University of Wollongong. 2016. Artist in Residence: Chika OHGI. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 1 January 2019].

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January 2019

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