Archive for April 7th, 2019

(Metaphorical) gluttony and indigestion

Apparently it’s now called Freshwater, but when I was a child we would sometimes drive in summer heat to Harbord Beach. A heavy red and white umbrella. Zinc cream. Burning feet trudging through the sand. Staying between the flags, jumping into waves, attempting to body surf.

And some days the waves, churning sand, would catch you up, tumble you around, water up your nose, struggling – which way is the surface? And you’d stagger out, legs trembling, eyes stinging, swimmers dragging down from the weight of sand in the pants, hair drying crunchy with salt. Exhausted. Wanting more.

So I’m mixing metaphors between title and intro, but that’s just how it is right now and we’ll all just have to make do. Because over the last five weeks I’ve been tumbled, and gobbling, and racing back for more.

The blog’s never going to catch up, so a sprint through. Visual focus remains un-balance.
Joel Crosswell in Dirty Paper at Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery

Bad reflections in the photo. Lots of flickering movement.

Toby Ziegler Your Shadow Rising at MONA

Toby Ziegler
Empty Pond

A grid rather than balance.
Layers, accepting chance, multiple approaches (film, installation, …).

ZERO at Mona
Much more time and need for thought and research on Zero and Nul movement(s).


Stripes rather than balance. Amazing what clever placement of some nails can do.

There were multiple examples of the revealed depth of Fontana. Plus movement, vibration, balance by Bernard Aubertin, Jesús Rafael Soto, Jean Tinguely…

Riitta Ikonen and Karoline Hjorth Eyes as big as plates at Salamanca Arts Centre

Hjorth and Ikonen
Eyes as big as plates
Salme


A wonderful, calming, enriching experience. I chatted for a long time with the two artists, who were incredibly welcoming, forthcoming, encouraging, generous… See more of their project at https://eyesasbigasplates.com/.

Intensive Creative Research with Ruth Hadlow. The first of our group sessions was held over three days in Hobart. “Intense” doesn’t cover it. Work flowing on from it includes my Energizing Objects and Glossary investigations.

Battery Point, Hobart
I walked the harbourside sculpture trail, but found myself more drawn by views of boatsheds, cottage gardens, inventive weather vanes and tardis side gates.

Janet Laurence After Nature MCA Sydney
This major survey shows the depth and wide ranging approach of Janet Laurence. Concentric rings of layered and image-printed fabrics combine with light and film to immerse the viewer in trees, within a tree, in the history of our relationship with trees. Modern and ancient knowledge and technologies are brought together. All our senses are engaged.

A huge tree, killed by drought, has been pieced together in one of the galleries. It is bandaged, glass tubing suggesting life support, or perhaps an exchange between tree and environment of fluid or air. Engraved markings in the bark, and the insects who made them, are celebrated. Is salt rock a blossoming new growth, or the death of salinity? Eyes on balance, I was impressed by the few supports needed to stabilise the tree in the space. A slight discontinuity in deep fissures in the tree showed the small adjustments made to adapt it to its new life.

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John Chester Jervis, National Library of Australia
A trip to Canberra with my mother was focused on the photograph albums of a 19th century ancestor – my great great great uncle. The albums were recently donated by a distant English cousin.

Mum with John Chester Jervis photo album


Mourning locket for Louisa, briefly reunited with photograph of her sister Ellen and brother John

Mum has researched the Australian period of John Chester’s life, from the 1840s to 1871 – https://megshistory.wordpress.com/john-chester-jervis/.

While in Canberra we also visited the National Gallery of Australia, in particular Love & Desire: Pre-Raphaelite Masterpieces from the Tate. There were many familiar works included, but there’s nothing like a bit of parochialism.

Ford Maddox Brown
The seeds and fruits of English poetry

The central section of The seeds and fruits of English poetry by Ford Maddox Brown is a study for an enormous painting, Chaucer at the court of Edward III in the AGNSW collection. It’s one of mum’s absolute favourite works, and whenever we have a few minutes spare at the gallery you’ll find us visiting it.

Māori Markings: Tā Moko was fascinating.There has been a contemporary resurgence of this practice, which is of major cultural significance.

Yayoi Kusama
The spirit of the pumpkins descended into the heavens

The bright yellow room presented by Yayoi Kusama is billed as an experience of both claustrophobic and infinite space. I’m sure we weren’t the first to find it puzzling. I’ve been vaguely aware of Kusama’s work in the past, and find the obsessive character of it disturbing and in some sense empty.

We also found our way down to Bodies of art: Human form from the national collection. There we found Number 24, Harry Boyd, by Harry Klippel.

Robert Klippel
Number 24, Harry Boyd

Robert Klippel
small polychromed tin sculptures

It’s hard to believe this massive piece of sandstone was carved by the same man who made the multitude of inventive wire and tin forms which I most recently saw in Mosman as part of Destination Sydney. (I think they’re actually part of the AGNSW collection).

Hossein Valamanesh
Falling

Robert Klippel is definitely one of the artists on my list the research further for un-balance.

Part of the interest of un-balance is the constant potential for complete loss of balance – for falling.

On the information plaque Hossein Valamanesh is quoted: “Leaving aside narratives the work stands for itself and is about falling with grace.” The long bamboo shivered just slightly in the gallery’s currents of air. The work is beautiful and elegant, but I struggle that it seems to be set at the moment of impact, where grace can no longer hold. The ground is so solid and hard. I’d like to see it Falling on a plinth, white or even perspex, curving to swoop joyfully upwards.

No photos, but I’ll briefly mention Hassall Collection at Drill Hall Gallery. No photos – we happened to arrive at the same time as a very large group of people from Canberra and Sydney, and it was hard to get viewing space.

In the last few days I’ve been on another interstate trip – this time to the National Gallery of Victoria, and focused on the opening events of Alexander Calder: Radical Inventor. An amazing experience, needing its own post. While there I took a couple of hours to roam NGV galleries, looking for anything that spoke to me of un-balance.

Francesco Clemente
The Midnight Sun XII

I have no idea what to make of this painting, but I stayed with it for a long time. There are scales. There is a balance achieved in the composition in a way I don’t understand. Research needed.

Paul Cezanne
The Uphill Road


The geometry here is amazing. The roof and tree line, with the path at the bottom, struggle to balance that steep, sliding slope.

Then in the bottom right corner, and possibly among the last brush strokes on the canvas, is the slightest hint of a straggle of weeds. And I think that braces, props up, the entire thing.

Currently hanging next to the Cezanne is The bridge on the Seine at Chatou by Maurice de Vlaminck.

Maurice de Vlaminck
The bridge on the Seine at Chatou


Full of energy and zest, and I don’t think the artist cares one whit that the bridge and the entire village on the right bank is about to slide under the waters of the Seine.

Mari Funaki
Container

A dreadful photo, lots of reflections and blurry focus, but I want to remember the works of Mari Funaki. A much better photo is on the gallery website here. A beautifully balanced insect of a thing which could leap across the room in an instant. That leftmost leg is wide but thin – the whole thing looks like it could tip backwards, at the same time as it seems perfectly in control.

Just minutes later I was looking at this jar – Predynastic Period, Naqada II 3500 BCE-3200 BCE. EGYPT, Diospolis Parva

Jar

Maybe looking at Funaki’s work I should have been thinking of birds rather than insects. And these lines actually would make a good segue to Alexander Calder and his zoo drawings. But not today.

Instead I’m going to finish where I intended to start – at the pile of books that have accumulated over the same five weeks. In no particular order:

Hassall Collection: A masterpiece Collection of Australian Art. Exhibition catalogue.
John Berger. A Painter of Our Time
Dora Garcia I see words, I hear voices
Alexander Calder: Radical Inventor. Exhibition catalogue.
Landscapes: John Berger on Art
Richard Serra, Hal Foster Conversations about Sculpture
Alexander Calder & Fischli/Weiss
Sol LeWitt: Between the Lines
William Kentridge Six Drawing Lessons
Joy Kenward The Joy of Mindful writing: Notes to inspire creative awareness
Ruth Hadlow Granite
Nancy Spector and Nat Trotman Peter Fischli David Weiss: How to Work Better
Joan Pachner David Smith
Anne Carson Float
Lynne Cooke, Karen Kelly and Barbara Schroder (eds) Agnes Martin
Eyes as big as plates. Exhibition catalogue
Sarah Edelman Change your thinking: positive and practical ways to overcome stress, negative emotions and self-defeating behaviour using CBT (Lent to me by a work colleague who thought I was stressed. Can’t imagine where he got that idea!)

All this added to the metres of unread and part-read books already piled up on the shelves.

Five weeks, four capital cities, sixteen books. Good days.


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