Archive for the 'Artists and exhibitions' Category

Tricia Flanagan – Digital Materiality

Conductive embroidery was a one day workshop given by Tricia Flanagan at Gallery Lane Cove during the time of her exhibition Digital Materiality –Coded Textiles. There was a presentation of theory and materials, a couple of simple practical exercises, and discussion of possible applications. We also spent time in Tricia’s exhibition.

Tricia had prepared thermochromatic threads and textile paints by combining specialty pigments with standard textile binding medium and screen printing medium. “Thermo” (heat) + “chroma” (colour). At standard room temperature the powders are red, blue, yellow… Heated, the colour vanishes. So white thread or fabric painted with red pigment + binding medium looks red when cool (the outside colour on the thread) and white when heated (the red vanishes, so the underlying white of the thread or fabric is visible).

Heat was created by making a circuit using a battery and high resistance conductive thread. The thread warms up as the current passes through it.

Top: Simple running stitch in conductive thread, on a rainbow of thermochromatic paint
Bottom: circuit made with battery. Heated thread warms fabric and colour changes

Top: thread painted with thermochromatic paint, couched with a mix of conductive thread and ordinary coloured sewing thread
Bottom: Circuit made with battery. Some colour vanishes, based on proximity to conductive thread.

A simple, static circuit – not exactly exciting. A variation was a sample that had multiple part-circuits. Connections were made by a dangling tassel (metal washer covered by buttonhole stitch in conductive thread) that would brige gaps depending on where it fell on the fabric – effectively a tilt-sensor.

From the studio we went up to Tricia’s exhibition space, to see some of the many what-ifs that this little taster could lead to. One in particular blew me away.

BODYecology 2016 – present (ongoing) handspun merino lambswool, indigo, acrylic, steel, wood, electronics, weaving loom and video

There are basically three parts: a sleeping mat; a winding and dyeing apparatus; a loom.

On the left in the photo above, the sleeping mat. A sensor in the pillow recognises when Tricia is lying there, and the central mechanism is switched on.

At the back left in the centre is a pile of undyed yarn cakes. The other end of the yarn is tied on to a bobbin mounted on a bar at the front. When the mechanism is switched on the bar turns, winding on newly-dyed yarn at a steady rate.

The path the yarn takes is exciting. That metal canister at the back right is an indigo dye vat. The travelling yarn is plunged into that to varying depths. The dyed yarn goes past a blow heater, then is taken on a zig-zag path so it is dry by the time it reaches the bobbin.

How deep the yarn goes into the dye vat varies the time the yarn is exposed to the dye, and so the depth of colour. So what controls the depth of the plunge?

Sleeping Tricia wears a fitness monitor. Data collected on her sleep is sent to a controller on the central mechanism. Deeper sleep –> deeper plunge –> deeper colour. Longer in deep sleep –> longer length of yarn deep dyed.

The next day Tricia can wind off the yarn dyed through the night, and use it as weft on the warp. Apparently it takes around a month to complete the woven piece.

Another view, showing a completed weaving at the back and on video.

Some of my details are probably a bit off, but the basic idea… Sleep patterns coded and made visible in a textile. Beautiful!

See a little of the action: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NL-gsrJUjL4

I was hoping to visit the exhibition again later, for a closer look plus more conversation with Tricia. Of course as things turned out that couldn’t happen.

Some links:

Kirtika Kain – uppercase

On the final day of this exhibition at Gallery Lane Cove I went to a discussion between Kirtika and Judith Blackall. Earlier in the week I did an evening workshop with Kirtika, an introduction to monoprinting – more on that soon.

Kirtiki Kain
epigraph
silkscreened iron filings, tar and wax on kozo paper

This exhibition was part of Kirtika’s prize as recipient of the 2017 Lloyd Rees Youth Memorial Award, and was displayed in a separated corner space within the 2019 Award show. Kirtika was born in New Delhi into the Dalits or Untouchables caste. Her father was a beneficiary of affirmative action and trained as a chef, a profession which enabled him and his young family to migrate to Australia. Kirtika is careful to point out that she herself hasn’t experienced discrimination due to her caste. Instead she seems to be an outsider – growing up as a migrant on Sydney’s northern beaches, travelling to New Delhi as a foreign visitor, impacted by caste stigma which is not lived but still inherited.

After initial training in psychology Kirtika received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2016, winning a scholarship to complete her Masters in 2018. In 2019 she completed residencies in New Delhi and Rome, had a solo exhibition with Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery in Sydney, was included in a few other exhibitions, then spent November working intensively in the print studio at Lane Cove to create the works for uppercase. The whirlwind continues, with Kirtika already advanced in work for her next scheduled exhibition.

Kirtika is interested in transience. She enjoys the process of making works, rather than feeling a need for them to continue existence – tricky when you get to the commercial gallery situation (she “felt a bit taxidermied”). Kirtika uses the transformation of materials to examine themes of caste stigma, ancestral memory and the language of power and reclamation. The language is a way of accessing her history. In the mid-twentieth century Dr. B.R. Ambedkar transcribed into English the social rules that over generations have been internalised by the Dalits, rules condemning them to subhuman status, denied the smallest vestige of prestige or honour. Kirtika explained she feels the impact of the words on her body as she works with them, and she selects materials responding to this – waste, or with religious and cultural references, or capturing the feeling such as with the density of tar. Materials that hold a history.

Fitting with Kirtika’s interest in the process over the result, she included in the exhibition some of the screens and plates used in creating the works.


Some of the screens were old ones found in the gallery studio space – beautiful, but bound for a cleaning and return for future use. The double meaning of “uncleaned” only occurred to me while writing the caption below.

A number of works used layering very effectively. Edges, fragility, materiality gave impact and depth.

Resources
https://www.artistprofile.com.au/kirtika-kain/
https://whatson.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/events/kirtika-kain-corpus

Gallery tours, talks, and wanderings

Today a quick memory jogger, rather than a gentle meander.

Rizzeria in the Kaldor Studio at AGNSW. The Rizzeria is “a Sydney based collective of self-publishers and printmakers with a Risograph stencil press that they make available for public use through open-print sessions”. Kaldor Studio is “a dynamic artist-led learning space, providing opportunities to interact and explore contemporary art practice through 50 years of Kaldor Public Art Projects”. Making art public: 50 years of Kaldor Public Art Projects is on at AGNSW until mid February. It’s a survey of “the rich history of Kaldor Public Art Projects using artworks, archival materials and reconstructions of past projects”.

Documentation of Tatzu Nishi War and Peace and in between project

To me the vitality of the Studio is a very clever inclusion to an exhibition which otherwise I find static and unappealing. Each past project is isolated in its own private white cubicle. I experienced some of the actual projects (see for example 13-Apr-2013 when I posted about my experience of the 13 Rooms exhibition). I remember walking into Tatzu Nishi’s project with my mother in 2009 or 2010 – in fact we quite often remind each other of it when walking up to AGNSW. The archival remnants now on exhibit felt sad and dusty – almost inevitable given the comparison to both the original event and our shared memories of the experience.

I booked into a demonstration of the Riso machine in the Studio. Good to know of the possibilities and availability of the Riso machine, for potential future projects. Also rather nice that I arrived early and had some unexpected time to wander, leading to…

Japan Supernatural. This is on until early March. I’d already been on a formal members only tour of the exhibition. I tend to avoid tours, wanting to go at my own pace, thinking my own thoughts, spending time with the works that particularly attract me. Time for a rethink, assuming I have time for both tour and solo. Having some extra context and familiarity allowed a more thoughtful second visit.

Tsukioka Yashitoshi

Above is a woodblock print from 1859, part of a triptych now in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. (side-note – no such thing as a quick post. I just spent more than a few happy moments searching for more information on their website. For this work click here).

Every culture has its stories, its demons. More wandering that day led to the survey exhibition Quilty.

Ben Quilty
The Last Supper 2017

This dark dream is a response to the election of Donald Trump. I struggle with this exhibition. One enormous canvas after another, full of emotion and outrage, visceral in subject matter and materiality… Turning away doesn’t seem an option, nor does simply standing witness, nor shouting into the wind. Escaping into a world of ideas and aesthetics, focusing on the minutia of living daily life “well” seems woefully inadequate to the times. And yet in one sense more real.

A different day, a different gallery tour, this time at the MCA, again with time to wander before the main event.

Primavera 2019: Young Australian Artists. This is the 28th edition of the Primavera series, which showcases young Australian artists.

Coen Young
mirror painting

An addition to my collection of non-selfie photos. This is me, reflected in one of Coen Young’s mirror paintings, which aim to dissolve the space between the artwork and the audience, shifting between abstraction and representation. The signage included “As reflective surfaces, Young’s paintings are both dependent upon, and a negation of the image. They refer to the history of the ‘monochrome’: a moment within the history of painting in which all pictorial content was reduced to a single field of colour.” Given my tendency to take things literally, the poor framing resulted from my determination to include the bright orange of my bag.

Aodhan Madden
Soluble Rectangles series

More puzzles for me. There are elements of comic books, of instructions, of a very conscious use of words and language in Aodhan Madden’s work – a series of drawings, plus an audio installation. The audio was a series of exercises and like learning a language. Plain english text was altered according to a series of rules, shifting vowel sounds, changing emphasis on syllables – all apparently intended to enhance communication on an emotional plane. For example “To express fright in the confusion between the transparent and the lucid”, one can “shift all long vowels to short vowels, and move all short vowels one higher position towards the front.” Even with printed instructions including “before” and “after” text, plus the carefully enunciated audio, I had no idea what was going on. Is that the point? A break down of language and communication?

Guan Wei: MCA Collection Two finger exercise includes 48 pictures – all with plump figures using the two fingered V sign associated with the pro-democracy movement. Apparently on the back of each is a short poetic text in Mandarin. A leaflet of english translations was available – so in this instance, language enhancing communication. Plus a link to earlier in this post, as a response to contemporary politics.

Guan Wei
Two-finger exercise no 21


Why are they hiding in there?
I’m not afraid. Giving the V-sign,
I’m prepared to face wind
and rain.

Guan Wei
Two-finger exercise no 23


How am I doing? How’s my
technique? I want to get this
position perfect!

And finally it was time for the most exciting of the recent tours – a Behind-the-scenes installer tour of the Cornelia Parker exhibition.
This was fascinating. Mark Brown, Installation & AV Manager at the MCA, took us through the exhibition, focusing on the four major multi-element installations. Many months of detailed discussion and planning including the use of 3D software to meticulously check spacing funneled into the controlled frenzy of a three-week installation period. For Subconscious of a Monument, thousands of lumps of excavated earth were carefully taken from trays, threaded one by one onto wires, and hung. Teams rotated frequently, and needed every minute of the available time. The silverware in Thirty Pieces of Silver had to be polished before it was hung. The team working on that piece used the original templates but developed new techniques to make the hanging process more efficient – all of course with ongoing dialogue with the artist and her team during both planning and installation. Some of the smaller elements of Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View were pre-threaded, but more had to be done on-site. Once she was satisfied with the process and approach of the installation team, Parker allowed them a lot of freedom in the detail of placement of elements.

There was discussion of lighting – very specific to the needs of each work, and often quite different to previous iterations of hanging the works given the windowless gallery spaces. Wires varied by work – for example reflective silver colour for Thirty Pieces of Silver, and an earthy rust for Subconscious of a Monument. Then there were the gossipy snippets, such as the the height of the “pools” of silverware in Thirty Pieces of Silver – not at all by coincidence, the height of a UK roll of toilet paper (rolls being used as supports during hanging of the original work). All of the MCA installation team – the small permanent group, the extended pool brought in as required – are artists themselves, providing a level of understanding not just of the importance of every detail for the artwork but also of the perspective of the artist herself and the experience of exhibiting.

Apparently somewhere there is time-lapse video of the installation process. I’ve searched the MCA website without result. If anyone comes across it, please let me know in the comments – I think it would be fascinating!

Incomplete fragments

“To live is so startling, it leaves but little room for other occupations”

The quote above is from Emily Dickinson. Or so a number of results from a duckduckgo search tell me. It heads an essay by Mary Ruefle, Lectures I will never give, which appears to be a transcript of a lecture she gave. It seems she didn’t want to be speaking in the lecture hall, and she didn’t want the students to be sitting there listening to her – she thought it would be better if they were all in their own rooms, writing.

Angry and sad, caught for whatever reasons in an unsatisfactory situation, Ruefle sifted through old files “in an effort to accumulate debris” and “came across a few untethered pieces of paper that intrigued” her. The undigested conglomerate of disparate material became the un-lecture. Magical properties in the bezoar?


I haven’t posted much lately, which means a gap in my memory bank. So this is my hairball, presented in an attempt at Ruefle’s structure.

I read Mary Ruefle’s lecture essay in the final days of the Intensive Creative Research program with Ruth Hadlow. Eight of us including Ruth, four sessions each of three days, spread over eight months. Sitting in a circle, or at our tables. Attentively speaking, reading, listening, writing. It kept getting better, we kept getting better, each session. Ruth teaches a process, a model of practice. There are lots of glimpses of it throughout this blog, hints and fragments, or at least of my attempts to live the process. I’m reminded of a performance lecture at AGNSW by Padma Menon – “Exploring Indian classical dance and Hindu-Buddhist sculpture”. As I understand it, Padma’s words, her performance, could only ever point to the philosophy, the approach, the belief, of Bhakthi. Actual personal experience is a key element. I hope I’m not being disrespectful in this comparison, but there seems to be a parallel. Anything I could write about specifics taught by Ruth, and I have copious notes I’m trying to get into some semblance of order, could only point to, only be a shadow of, the doing.

While in Hobart I visited the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.

Julie Gough
Head Count

The major temporary exhibition was from Julie Gough – Tense Past (link). Julie Gough is a Tasmanian Aboriginal artist. I’m not certain of the lessons when I was in primary school in the 1960s – it may still have been a story of complete, utter, and deliberate annihilation of the indigenous people on the island. Not true, but “The Truth” (as if there can every be such a singular thing) is still a dark tale.

Research of this colonial history and the impact of colonisation on Tasmania’s first people is the focus of Gough’s work. She reworks, reconsiders, text from the archives, complex histories, from her perspective, rather than the original colonial perspective of the material. She reads between the lines to show what she thinks is actually happening. The exhibition included works of sculpture, sound and video installations made over a period of more than 20 years, brought together in a conversation. Gough states “you can learn more. Nothing is fixed, frozen or definitive.” We – especially in this context Tasmanians, but all Australians – all have the capacity and responsibility to learn, to try to understand, to work together to face the past in order to move on to a different future.

Ideas around conversation, communication, perhaps miscommunication, recur through the exhibition. There was a constant murmur of voice from the various videos. Text was formed by shadows, stitch, burning… Repetition and reuse of imagery, found objections and borrowings from museum collections, made connections through the space, time, and the ideas.

Also on view was Extinction Studies, a performance by Lucienne Rickard that will continue over twelve months.

Lucienne Rickard
Extinction Studies


Rickard draws recently extinct species… and then erases them. It makes a very powerful as well as beautiful statement – after just a few weeks she had shown over a dozen species, judging from a penciled list at the side. Unfortunately the artist wasn’t there at the time I visited.

Relating it back to my own current explorations, it’s an effective way to move between analytical and material modes. There’s the abstraction of a list, the material representation of the drawing, and then the action, the creation of a visible memory, the making apparent and present the abstract but very real loss.

Anita Larkin tutored a (long) one day workshop “Making Sculptures from Found Objects” for Basketry NSW. Lots of skills, methods, products (the wonders of a lively mind in a hardware store). Unfortunately I was very low on energy, plus felt quite distant from the found materials I’d brought, so no work of mine to show. However, a couple of shots of others’ outcomes, taken from the Basketry facebook page.


The Cornelia Parker exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art (link)… There’s so much to say about this exhibition that it seems impossible to begin.

There are fragments. In the case of Subconscious of a Monument, earth excavated from underneath the Leaning Tower of Pisa, suspended and filling a gallery space to a common level. Then add lighting, most spectacular in Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View. With something that has worked, keep returning, finding new angles, new life, as in Thirty Pieces of Silver. There’s the original form, then photogravure etchings, then a tapestry… The initial strategy of removing and then adding volume is repeated as well. Then there is intense focus on materiality and what is left behind – black laquer residue from cutting records, curls of silver from engraving, deflated balloons. There is violence, actual and implied, mostly with a cartoonish edge. There is wit and cleverness and curiousity and clearly the most amazing ability to engage with people and enthuse them to work with her.


It was in a lecture on Rodin that I first learnt the idea of a “complete fragment”. In a brief recent visit to the Art Gallery of South Australia I had the opportunity to see multiple examples of Rodin’s work. In fact there seemed to be a Rodin in most of the galleries, all supporting themes being explored by the curators. I’ve written about AGSA before (5-May-2013), and the way different objects are juxtaposed to reveal unexpected connections. That visit I was particularly taken by the conversation between The Bowmore Artemis (c. 180 AD) and Buck with cigar by Marc Quinn (2009). Both works are still in the same gallery, but have been moved around and other objects added and removed – breaking that link, it seems to me.

The first “complete fragment” I found was Flying Figure in a space exploring ‘the marvellous’, and was actually on a “waterfall wall” of works which “point to concepts of movement yet appear frozen, like fragments of time”. Signage also referred to Rodin’s belief that a fragment “can convey the complete sensation of motion”.

From memory this next work, The Inner Voice, was in an adjoining gallery, and I didn’t record the theme. Quoting again from the signage: “Rather than pursuing anatomical correctness or finish, Rodin was instead interested in the expressive qualities of form. Here he has distorted the female figure to explore themes of isolation, vulnerability and introspection. The laterally leaning upper body with its head resting on the right shoulder established the beginning of a tranquil, curving rhythm that flows throughout the entire sculpture. Such articulation would have been compromised, for example, by the inclusion of arms and the left knee.”

In a third gallery, sharing space with The Bowmore Artemis and Buck with cigar, was a The Walking Man, study for the torso. Dated 1878, cast in 1979, it was in a cabinet with another torso of similar size, carved in stone in 1931. From my reading (Albert Elsen seems to be the “go to” man), The walking man is a key example of the “complete fragment” philosophy. Head and arms are not included, not required, to convey the movement being explored. It is particularly interesting to see what is effectively a fragment of a complete fragment. It still manages to be full of life, energy, and movement.

In his book Rodin, Elsen claims the truncation was not a simple whim, not indiscriminate. “By reducing the body in this way, Rodin established a new authority of the artist over what had heretofore been considered the sanctity of the human form and the completeness of its external appearance, and gave sculpture a new integrity which … was to influence cubist sculpture. He may have intended to show the body as marvelous and mysterious in every part and at the same time force the viewer’s attention to the sculpture’s execution.” Also
“… what he was doing here with the figure was a precedent for the arbitrary proportioning of parts of the body for aesthetic and expressive reasons… a precedent for establishing criteria and completeness that were based upon the fragment’s self-sufficient expressiveness and the sculpture’s ability to be further curtailed without loss of its potency.” Elsen noted care taken in the carving away of sections, a continuing respect for the integrity of the body. Thinking of this while in the gallery, I was convinced by Elsen’s argument.

More recently, I’ve been reading On Sculpture by Antony Gormley. He points out that a sculpture is “a still, silent object”. Instead of seeing Rodin as offering a new beginning, Gormley states “I admire Rodin, but … we have to ask what he had to do in order to make gesture acceptable. He had to accept the object nature of the work and cut off body parts quite violently… he had to allow it to become an object and wound it, cut it and destroy it”. Gormley claims “a whole trajectory of Western sculpture ends with Rodin” and concludes “Represented movement is a stupid idea for sculpture”. I think there is a deliberate bluntness, even clumsiness, in this sentence.

It seems clear to me that the two sculptors have different goals. Rodin is expressing a movement or emotion, or exploring aesthetically. Gormley is interested in reflexivity, where the viewer becomes aware of their own movement, their own breath, when moving around or through Gormley’s sculptures and installations. Each approach has, in its own way, a kind of spareness, terseness. Just enough, and no more, to achieve objectives. Space – physical, mental, spiritual? – that the viewer must complete. Working at a very different level, this makes me question my recent investigations into “unbalance” – working with mobiles (which of course are actually very carefully balanced), and photographs of piles of crockery about to topple over. I was looking to create sensation in a potential viewer – a catch of breath, perhaps a flicker of foreboding – but it was all very literal. Fulsome. I need to find other ways.

Still at AGSA, some other works that caught my eye.

Hauntingly beautiful work on the wall by Hossein Valamanesh.


It’s made of lotus leaves on gauze, and synthetic polymer paint. The shadow figure writing is a verse by Rumi (1207 – 1273):
I tear my shirt with every breath for the extent of ecstasy and joy of being in love; now he has become all my being, and I am only a shirt.

More fragments in a gallery space filled by Chiharu Shiota – Absence Embodied.

And finally a selfie – this time a reflection – with Lindy Lee, The Life Of Stars.

Lindy Lee
The Life Of Stars

Mary Ruefle does eventually bring herself to give specific advice if you want to be a writer.
When your pencil is dull, sharpen it.
And when your pencil is sharp, use it until it is dull again.

And as for time for other occupations (the Dickinson quote), my years employed as a data analyst have come to somewhat abrupt end, and thus somewhat startled, I am entering into a full-time creative life. If the voice in this post seems rather uneven, it’s because it has been written over a number of weeks while I’m finding my feet.

Finally a maxim from Pitigrilli, quoted by Umberto Eco in “Wilde: Paradox and Aphorism”:
Fragments: a fortunate excuse for writers who cannot put a whole book together.

Wirrimanu: Art from Balgo

This current exhibition at AGNSW fills a gallery with pulsating colour. I’ve visited a few times over the weeks. A print-maker friend gave some interesting insights, speculating on techniques that may have been used in some of the prints included in the exhibition. My mother found it fascinating, having met some of the artists included in the exhibition when she visited Balgo/Wirrimanu for two weeks in 2000. Mum knew a couple of people who were working there. At that time there were no scheduled flights in, just the weekly mail plane which serviced the area. Mum helped out in the school (she’d been a teacher prior to the arrival of all of us), and went on a series of excursions around the area.

I tried to practice some attentive looking, spending some time with Kinyu (1991) by Eubena Nampitjin.

Eubena Nampitjin
Kinyu (1991)

From my notes at the time (a couple of weeks ago).
Attracted by un-balance. ‘Ribcage’ of white lines. Strength and support. spindly uprights. Sliding top accentuated by clearer lines of yellow and white above.
‘Stop’ of green line at boundary of painting, pushing back. Almost an unfurling lower right, about to stretch up.
Bubbles of form give lightness and a spring to the work.
Then I wrote quite a lot of waffle about cultural appropriateness and appropriation.

The gallery signage gives a little biographical information, plus some standard art-speak description – “… delicate white traceries surrounded by pointillist fields of vivid yellow…”.

There are no great insights here. Not even a minor insight. I worked at giving my full attention. I tried to see what was in front of me. Flop. Frustrating. So this post is a bit of truth in non-advertising.

Another work in the exhibition is by the same artist, with the same title, painted around 16 years later.

Eubena Nampitjin
Kinyu (2007)

Finally some photos from mum’s trip. The colour is wonky, scanned from old prints.

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Rosslynd Piggott -Tremor

Attentive Looking at Rosslynd Piggott: I sense you but I cannot see you, National Gallery of Victoria.

2019-07-12 19.34.04

Rosslynd Piggott
Tremor


Unbalanced
Odd angles
Slice of reflections
Reflections of reflections
Glass bubbles like a spirit level
Weighed down, bolted down
Would / could those wire (?) ties loosen?
The glass bubbles would float
Twisting effect of angles
Looks like sliding around
2019-07-12 19.35.34

Fragmented me

Constantly responding (mirror shaft), not a captured moment of motion
Motion right now – from reflection, from me
Transparency and reflection – glass, high gloss of black
See, hide, reveal
Hard to stand steady – tipping one way or another
Gap could widen and we’d fall through – through the floor of the gallery, through the foundations and earth and mysterious network of pipes. The abyss.
The blackness of the chasm, reflecting but could change, start absorbing, at any moment
Watch my step, don’t want to tip it
Reflecting me and my unsteadiness, instability. Fractured.
Now feels dangerous – edge of the cliff
I’m part of it.
Not trapped, but moving in it, moving it.
Displayed in a quiet corner. Does that amplify the danger?
Is it near a supporting column? Would that feel safer?
But more exciting, exhilarating, than scarey
The maroon colour of one weight, of what I’m wearing. Increases sense of personal involvement
It’s closer to the edge than the other. Is it sliding?

I found this process – standing there, forcing myself to stay with it, think, notice, focus, scribbling away – absorbing and energising.
The link to un-balance is clear. Reflections, making the viewer part of ongoing motion… How can I introduce that?

Later I read the signage. Some correspondence, some significant differences. Harsh to say, but it’s not relevant to my purpose.

Robert Rauschenberg – Dylaby

Attentive Looking involves engaging with a work, unpacking one’s own response. Not external information, not that “answer” on the label on the wall (or at your fingertips with the O device at MONA). Looking. Seeing what is happening, an event where the work meets or affects you. Mining that experience, the points of attraction or impact on you, how you could use those as a new starting point in your own investigations, in your own terrain.

This week I went to AGNSW, to the area in the Contemporary galleries just outside the Duchamp exhibition. What collection works would the curators have chosen to respond to that?

One work in particular called to me straight away.

Robert Rauschenberg
Dylaby

I stood there, trying to figure out why. I scrawled notes.

Robert Rauschenberg
Dylaby (detail)

Scale – not too big. Garage or shed or maybe farmyard detritus.
Found objects with history, materiality.
Echoes of past use, but not loud or forceful.

Timber and rubber. Good, solid, known, functional, familiar, materials. Complement each other. Natural, but formed by human.
Texture – the grain of the wood, the tread and molding of the tyre, the gaps and joins, the runs of paint.
Components match in size as well as complementary material.

Double headed arrow. Asking me questions.
Strong geometric shapes. Circle, rectangle, the triangle of the arrowheads.
Repetition of shapes and levels of detail. Rectangles within and across rectangles. Circular molding on tyre as well as the major edges.

Limited, neutral, colours. Cream paint, brown of timber, black of tyre and paint, deeper black of glimpsed interior.

Interior / external play.
Unified. Balanced. Coherent.
Self-assured. Self-contained, but not trapped.

Chosen to be together. Linked by found status, by random marking in cream paint – but not “matched”. I suspect the doublehead of the arrow was a modification by the artist. Another sign of choice, of the conscious eye and hand of the artist.

Definitely an object (a current area of interest and research).

I think the biggest challenge to me in my own work, the question asked, is in materiality. I’ve been reading in that area. Ruth Hadlow has challenged me in that area. I can feel an internal resistance. Part of that is practical. The found objects most available to me are domestic, and it feels hackneyed. That was the major reason for the “tip of the tongue” theme I haven’t written about yet. There’s a lot of junk in the house, which we’re currently clearing out. None of it is particularly evocative. And if it were, there’s the storage consideration. More thought required.

Adroitly redirecting attention, going to external sources of information gave a different view. This “combine” is one of very few items still existing from an exhibition in Amsterdam in 1962 of the same name. It’s an abbreviated form of “Dynamic Labyrinth”. I can’t do justice to it here, it sounds totally crazy – see for example https://stedelijkstudies.com/journal/ludic-exhibitions-at-the-stedelijk-museum-die-welt-als-labyrinth-bewogen-beweging-and-dylaby/. A total contrast to the galleries in which I saw the Rauschenberg work. (I was going to write about the cool and calm gallery, but AGNSW has its noisy, colourful, crazy moments too.)

It’s good to have that contrast, that reminder. My experience of the work was very different – quiet, personal, contemplative. A work can be different in every encounter.

Momentary (un)balance

It’s been a while since I posted. This is going to be a bit of a ramble. Glancing to past, present, and future. I chose a title that might give a bit of space for reflection. For exploration. To challenge. To be challenged. Who am I? What am I doing here? That sort of stuff. Well, hopefully not too much of that final stuff – too tedious for anyone, including me, and the answers will be different in a day or hour or next thought.

After all balance, or not, is a moment by moment thing.
And could one say there is more fun in un- ?
fun-balance?

In the interregnum there was the second group session with Ruth Hadlow in Hobart. How to show the activity of my glossary and energizing objects investigations? With just a few days to go I thought of the balancing act of a house of cards, and quickly printed out material from the blog.

Un-balance House of Cards

Results were poor as a presentation device. While talking I was unable to get beyond two cards before the anticipated collapse eventuated.

For communication? Mixed response. People seemed to enjoy passing them around for a look, and it was probably easier than a laptop showing the blog. However to an extent the cards were interpreted as a work in their own right, and from that perspective there was a lot of refinement to be done.

It led to the suggestion of looking at documentation and research as forms of creative practice.

It also led to some discussion of the use of a blog. Not necessarily polished writing and presentation. Not private, unrestrained “thinking writing”. Mine is an uneasy balance – some warts showing, but not all. And I quite see that the viewer of an artwork might not want their response to be directed or narrowed by my titles, and might prefer some mystery and wonder rather than be told the balance was actually easy (15-Apr-2019).

Ready for lift-off
24-Mar-2019

Then there are the actual objects. For me a weaving shuttle plus red chopsticks from a local cafe have meaning beyond the balance. For others those materials are most likely unrecognised, mute. Even more so my trusty annealed tie wire, or threads in resin, or corrugated copper foil, or …

A towering thirst
15-Apr-2019

Can I add to my work in my choice of materials? One point of resistance is that these materials are already meaningful to me. How much to I want to vary my standard, selfish, focus? Plus the obvious thing is to go household/domestic, but I’m wary of being obvious. Which led me to the idea of “on the tip of the tongue”. If I choose to take this path, can I disguise the objects so people have to reach for recognition? To me that stretching, vibrating feeling of trying to pin down a reference is very close to the rapidly variation adjustments trying to keep balance. I need to learn more about material approaches.

Then there was the surprising (to me) realisation that all my samples were very literal illustrations of balance. That was set up in the briefs for each investigation, but still… Over the days of the session there was some mention of my strong literal, analytical, pedantic aspects. Something to challenge?

Growing pondering list:

  • Types or aspects of creative practice: research / documentation / sampling / polished (“worked”) work…
  • Intended audience. Myself / peer group / wider world
  • Materiality. Potential for enrichment, complexity, layers of meaning…
  • Types of writing. Narrative / authoritative / propositional / thinking / notes / poetic articulation. Audience, level of re-working…
  • The analytical etc. Something to challenge? Or aspects to reframe, reposition, harness as strengths, or at least with positive potential.

    The Essential Duchamp exhibition at AGNSW is well timed for me.

    Marcel Duchamp
    Nude descending a staircase (no 2)
    1912

    Nude descending a staircase (no 2) depicts a body in motion. From the catalogue by Matthew Affron: “a marionette-like figure decomposed into repeating linear elements that serve as an abstract, graphical record of its movement.” It mentions the lines and planes of the changing position in space, and also “small dotted lines indicate the swinging motion of the figure’s visible hip and legs”. There was inspiration from motion photography.

    Pendulum
    19-Apr-2019

    An extra step for me could be to work further with my photographs, abstract from them, use them as a base for development, say brush and ink drawing or maybe monoprinting.


    On the left above, a view within the gallery. Various readymades, most of them replicas of the originals. The choice of the objects was (allegedly?) made with visual indifference, although the first, Fountain, was definitely provocative. An alternative perspective on materiality. What currently particularly interests me is on the right, effectively a display case compendium of around 69 works. Miniature replicas, print reproductions, all in a case that closes to 40.6 x 37.5 x 10.8 cm. Lots of different ways to see this, but to me one is to regard it as documentation.

    Marcel Duchamp
    The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Batchelors, Even (The Green Box)

    It becomes clearer in The Green Box, containing 94 facsimile documents – manuscript notes, drawings, photographs. An accompaniment to The Large Glass, objects in their own right, artefacts of Duchamps process, a guidebook, a literary form… and documentation.

    Tentative conclusions so far:

  • I want to keep Un-balance as a focus. Without going into complexities of a multitude of recent resonances, a simple example of how un-balance is pursuing me. One of the recently weekly lectures at AGNSW was given by Mark Ledbury, on Géricault’s Raft of the Medusa. Towards the end Mark showed us a couple of Géricault’s portraits of the insane – The Monomania of Envy and Portrait of a Man Suffering from Delusions of Military Command. The very next day a book purchase arrived, recommended by Ruth as an example of a creative practice in documentation and research – Fiona Tan’s 10 Madnesses. Focused on the same portraits by Géricault.
  • I want to learn more about research and documentation as forms of creative practice. So far it feels like a good fit for me.
  • I’m attempting to bring some of my day-job analytical skills and data visualisation techniques into play. So far that means building up some data. It will take some time to develop.
  • I’m back here blogging. Not everything. Watching what works for me, how it fits with other aspects of what I’m doing. But it’s just too valuable to give up. It’s an index; an archive; an opportunity for communication, interaction; a means of organising thoughts; a reminder to look back, maybe synthesize, not keep rushing on to the next experiment; showing research and work in progress, rarely if ever polished presentation of finished work.
  • In practice all this means I’m am reading up a storm and producing copious notes. Not much in the way of making, but I’m confident that will come.

    I’m sure there was more I was going to include. If it’s important it will come back to me. I hope 🙂

    Exhibition: Noŋgirrŋa Marawili – from my heart and mind

    Lightning
    2017
    enamel paint on aluminium board
    150 x 100 cm
    https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/works/191.2017/


    Yathikpa
    2014
    natural pigments on bark
    diptych:
    left: 150 x 56 cm
    right: 150 x 60 cm


    Wandawuy
    2012
    natural pigments on bark
    153.5 x 82.2 cm
    https://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/explore/collection/work/107107/


    Images are the only possible way to begin this post. Go back and look again, follow any links to the holding institution which may have a better photo. Note the dimensions – these aren’t small works, and the impact in person, plus the impact of having so many works together in the gallery space, is huge.

    This exhibition is at the Art Gallery of NSW until 24 Feb 2019. I find it hard to move around AGNSW at the moment, since this exhibition keeps calling me in (although Tuckson: the abstract sublime has opened in the next gallery. Recently I was standing in the space between the two, vibrating as I tried to decide in which direction to walk).

    At first the formal aspects caught me. Stripes, grids breaking out of rigid structure, dynamic diagonals? These are deeply embedded in my visual system, autonomic reflexes are triggered, and it is a visceral reaction as my heart races, my breathing quickens, as I stand, swaying – just barely not dancing – in front of the works.

    After the first couple of visits I read the exhibition catalogue. Highly recommended, it starts with a very descriptive, almost lyrical, essay by Cara Pinchbeck, followed by two more essays that further ground the work in Noŋgirrŋa’s culture and experiences. For me the liberating thing is that while these works are deeply embedded in tradition, deeply thought and felt and lived, they do not contain the sacred. I find it gives me permission to connect, to think my own stories, in front of the works.

    This year’s Art appreciation lecture series 2018 was themed The hidden language of art: symbol and allusion and Cara Pinchbeck gave one of the first lectures, but that was focused on Macassan connections and I don’t think Noŋgirrŋa was mentioned. However using the catalogue and internet sites one can build up a kind of dictionary.

    Wandawuy

    “The grid refers to the landscape of Wandawuy, a network of billabongs surrounded by ridges and high banks, its structure also reminiscent of woven fish traps” (from the NGV website link). Variations in colour evoke calm or still, silty or clear waters. There is movement, flickering sunlight, rippling waters.

    Yathikpa
    2014

    In Yathikpa a web or trail of diamonds can refer to flames, tongues of fire. Jagged parallel lines spear lightening across the sky.

    Lightning and sea spray
    2014
    natural pigments on bark
    243 x 70 cm
    Photo: AGNSW
    https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/works/118.2015/

    In Lightning and sea spray there are large rock formations top and bottom. The diamond net relates to the clan designs for the saltwater estate of Yathikpa, breaking down in the water to trails of sea spray as the ocean crashes onto them. Or that could be sea-grass. I think the dots on the rock are barnacles.

    That explanation sounds so dry and clear-cut. Referring to a different painting Cara Pinchbeck writes “They may be barnacles on the rock, or a dilly bag full of the day’s harvest. The uncertainty is in the duality, and Noŋgirrŋa plays with this with intent.” So a level of ambiguity, a level of challenging convention at the same time as diligently and decorously observing protocol. Noŋgirrŋa has created a space from the sacred, while still relating to clan designs, to tradition, to her own personal experience. She has created space for herself, and I feel she has given me space. There is ambiguity – that means I can have my own interpretation. It is the expression of one woman, not a statement of what is sacred to a clan – so I feel able to experience a sense of connection to an individual, which would feel improper to a belief system not my own.

    Lightning in the rock
    2015
    natural pigments on bark
    310.6 x 110 cm
    sideways?
    https://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/explore/collection/work/118975/

    The great increase in scale of design, the use of space, less repetition, an absence of rigidity – all of these seem on a continuum with wider movements of contemporary art as well as on a continuum with more traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander works in the collection.

    In one of the catalogue essays Henry F. Skerritt writes “[Noŋgirrŋa] takes the ‘data-sets’ of Yolŋu art and uses them to create new contexts, to literally shape a new present. This is not to suggest that Noŋgirrŋa’s work is some kind of ‘hybrid’ form, caught between the traditional and the modern. Rather, it pictures the presence of coexisting worlds that resist assimilation.”

    One thing I find odd. There is an absolutely enormous bark painting – in my undoctored photo here it hangs… well, portrait orientation. In the photo on the NGV website it is in landscape orientation.

    Is the idea of “right way up” not relevant? The orientation means it fits nicely on the piece of wall, but surely that shouldn’t be a consideration.

    Yathikpa
    2013
    natural pigments on bark
    199 x 86 cm
    upside down?


    There’s another example. Yathikpa (2013) took me ages to find the in the catalogue – the photo there is upside-down compared to the hanging in the gallery.

    Maybe I’ve been too used to reading things in a particular way, making it a cultural habit that I’ve turned into an unconscious, unexamined rule. Curious.

    Do we look at art to understand others or ourselves? Reflecting on this exhibition, for me it’s both. In large part, I want art to be personal. I look for me. I make for me. I write here for me. But for me the most powerful art brings connection, even if that connection is standing companionably, looking across the world and thinking our own thoughts. A friend remarked that I was “scathing” in a recent about an exhibition (18-Nov-2018), then some thought-provoking comments from Jane have sent me researching and writing page after page in my workbook, exploring the many types and purposes of “art”. It’s not my intention to consider those wider questions here, although it’s clearly related.

    I recently read Kathleen O’Connor of Paris, by Amanda Curtin. From Perth, Australia, O’Connor went in 1906 to Europe, to make her life as a painter. She spent over forty years in Paris, with focus, determination, drive, obsession. Uncompromising? Close to it, it seems, but life is always more complicated. There are a couple of works by O’Connor in the AGNSW collection, but I don’t recall ever seeing one in person. (links: Still life, Paris, Nursemaids in the Luxembourg Gardens). O’Connor hasn’t been entirely forgotten – the biography of course, also the inspiration behind an exhibition by Jo Darvall in Busselton – but she’s not well known. Is that her time and her gender? An east-coast-centric art establishment in Australia? Whatever, the idea of strong, determined, not-exactly non-compromising but finding her own path with determination – there’s a link I see to Noŋgirrŋa and a link I’d like to see to myself. And in writing that I have a connection, something of an anchor. From my workbook “I seek connections, but I won’t compromise to connect. I don’t insist on my terms if yours are compatible.” Is that modern individualism, the death of community? Perhaps a different kind of community.

    Now to finish as I started.

    Lightning
    2017
    enamel paint on aluminium board
    200 x 122 cm
    https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/works/190.2017/

    Baratjala
    2014
    natural pigments on board
    240 x 122

    Exhibitions in Canberra

    In Canberra for a short visit, mum and I hit exhibitions at some of the big institutions.

    Rome: City and Empire at the National Museum of Australia.
    With over 200 objects loaned from the British Museum, this exhibition was the main motivation for our visit. It’s a diverse group of things, flitting around place and time. There’s a light touch of some themes, at cross-purposes with chronology. A lot of marble, a lot of coins, some jewellery, domestic and military paraphernalia… Much of the overview information wasn’t new to us, that was mainly in the detail. So for me no earth-shattering insights, but some pleasant hours of looking and thinking.

    Javelin head

    Dated to mid-1st century CE, found at Hod Hill, Dorset inthe UK, a javelin or pilium head, is softened steel. They were designed to bend on impact, so the enemy couldn’t throw them back. Clever. Dreadful.
    Can’t see a way to make that visible and meaningful in a work, but a curious idea.

    Military diploma

    Bronze plaques, 122 (dated 17th July), Brigetio Hungary, were given to a soldier after 25 years of service. It records Gemellus was granted citizenship on his retirement. The plaques are described as “a four-leaved document” on the British Museum website.
    I’ve already been thinking about hammer-punching text into metal tags as inserts to folded books. Was planning to buy a set of alphabet punches, but I should explore other ways of making the marks. And making them directly into a book… possibilities…

    Punic funerary stele

    Amazing, graphic, lines carved into this burial stone. It’s probably from Carthage, Tunisia, 1st-2nd century CE.
    This link might be the right object – the description doesn’t quite fit.

    National Library of Australia

    Portrait of Abel Tasman, his wife and daughter Jacob Gerritsz Cuyp
    1637

    Following up some of mum’s recent reading, we visited both the National Gallery and the National Library, to see Cuyp’s Portrait of Abel Tasman, his wife and daughter. A very helpful, knowledgeable and friendly volunteer at the Library took us into the gallery – to the wall where it usually hangs. Just so we know next time where to go, as it had been away on loan and was perhaps now being checked in and checked over before rehanging. The Library website catalogue notes “On loan to the National Gallery of Australia”, but when we asked at the NGA information desk they had no information on it. So a reason for another visit to Canberra in a few months.

    While at the Library we took in the Cook and the Pacific exhibition.

    Tricky stuff. As the website notes “The exhibition web pages may also contain material with terms and descriptions that may be culturally sensitive or considered inappropriate today.” Delicately put! A lot of thought and effort has gone into giving context, and in making sure First Nations peoples from the places Cook visited were heard and seen in the exhibition. Still, some very uncomfortable reading. Included is a document with ‘hints’ provided to Cook by the president of the Royal Society, James Douglas, 14th Earl of Morton. The hints advise ‘the utmost patience and forbearance with respect to the Natives of the several Lands where the Ship may touch’. Cook may have taken this to heart, but further on:

    To check the petulance of the Sailors, and restrain the wanton use of Fire Arms.

    To have it still in view that sheding the blood of those people is a crime of the highest nature:—They are human creatures, the work of the same omnipotent Author, equally under his care with the most polished European; perhaps being less offensive, more entitled to his favor.

    They are the natural, and in the strictest sense of the word, the legal possessors of the several Regions they inhabit.

    No European Nation has a right to occupy any part of their country, or settle among them without their voluntary consent. Conquest over such people can give no just title; because they could never be the Aggressors.

    No excuses.

    National Gallery of Australia
    Over a couple of days we got to a few exhibitions here.
    Australian art: Earth/Sky

    Philip Hunter
    Night Wimmera X

    This abstracted landscape drew us both in, quietly contemplating. There is a shimmering, unearthly feel. Wheat sways in patterns, making visible the patterns of the wind. Are those the min min lights, dancing across the ancient, slumbering land? There is industry in the tracks of the harvesting equipment, balanced by the calm and unmoving certainty of the infinite horizon.

    I can see those fields in textured rows of stitching; those graceful, turning, tangles of line woven in metal in a sculpture. While the painting soothed my mind it had my fingers twitching with an urge to be making.

    A view of part of the Sky gallery space

    Taking a step back to think about the curation of this exhibition. I love the freshness, the new insights, provided by moving away from the geographic | chronological lockstep in presenting a collection. I first became conscious of an alternative when seeing the New Classical at the Art Gallery of South Australia (5-May-2013). Back then I quoted Director Nick Mitzevich in the press release “Boundaries of geography and time have been collapsed to inspire a new way of looking at the rich diversity of the Gallery’s collections. Objects from different periods and cultures are juxtaposed to reveal how art links the past to the present”. In this current exhibition in Canberra, people from different periods, different cultures, different belief systems, but all within Australia, are shown to have a commonality in looking around themselves at this land, at the southern skies. We all seek to explain, to express, how we come to be here, what this amazing place means to us. Visiting the exhibition, I can get a glimpse of other perspectives and share a moment of delight, wonder, perhaps understanding.

    Bronwyn Oliver
    Comet

    I’ve never felt moved to write about Bronwyn Oliver’s work before now. Reading about her work it sounds exactly in my interest area, that should have me buzzing with admiration, inspiration. Wire used to create abstract forms, woven or soldered, sewn with wire. Instead there is a level of calculation, control, perfectionism, closed and ungiving, almost desperately balanced, in the work that I find alienating.

    As so often happens, I need to think again, look again. Comet has a delicacy, the trailing tendrils of wire are slightly wayward, not all the personality groomed out. You’ll get a better view of the structure on the gallery website, but my poor photos (especially the general gallery view) give at least a sense of the movement, hung in a corner with shadows at different angles on the two walls. Being connected, in conversation, with the other works here also helps me approach it.


    Margel Hinder, Revolving construction.
    Sorry about the raw, poor video. Any past small skills in my editing software have vanished. The kinetic nature of the sculpture is important, but again, you’ll get a better photo of it on the gallery website.

    I have written about Margel Hinder’s work before – see 13-Jun-2014 for a figure sculpture that was warm and inviting, and 31-Dec-2013 for her Free standing sculpture in copper and steel that manages to be enormous, self-effacing, tactile and inviting, and an expression of the importance and economic might of the Reserve Bank of Australia(!).

    The NGA sculpture is serious, scientific, an expression of ideas, while still fun and playful. I see a lightness and sense of adventure. Seeing it move, the shadows drawing on the walls, gave a nice segue to the next NGA exhibition visited.

    Performing Drawing
    This exhibition “explores how actions can become art. Focusing on chance and change, this exhibition highlights the NGA’s collection of process-based drawing, video and photography.”

    Ilka White
    Still from Drawing breath

    In this video Ilka White draws on the ground using sand that trickles down from a sack resting across her shoulders. It is an intensely physical and meditative process. Ilka moves carefully, thoughtfully; pauses and pivots; stretches and expands then draws back in to herself. When the sack is empty she balances, reaches down, gently brushes the sand with her hand and you can feel its texture, the grating of the grains.

    Ilka White Installation view in Group exchange, Tamworth Triennial 2015

    Ilka spoke at the Art Textiles conference in Sydney in 2008 (ATASDA, supported by COFA). I have a general memory of someone deeply thoughtful, a weaver interested in exploring her world through her craft. She was also included in GROUP exchange, the 2nd Tamworth Textile Triennial – not in my post (22-May-2015), so I’ve dug through my photo archive to give a view of the range of work she presented then. In that the billabong near her home was her muse, and a central theme the interconnectedness of the world.

    That sense of deep and still waters of thought, of reflection of the world around, of stepping lightly on the land, of beautiful traces that will blow away and rejoin the earth, continues though all the different expressions of her work.

    Kieran Browne
    Trace

    Kieran Brown
    Gallery view

    This was so much fun.

    Entering this part of the exhibition, on the wall was a screen, blank except for a black mark on the right edge. I looked a while, read the blurb, looked again – and there were grey and black smudges on the screen.

    A little thought, a careful scan of the gallery ceiling – and a small black camera or sensor discovered.

    I ran to get mum, and we danced together to draw on the screen. Move slowly and a line of grey smudges records your progress. Pause, a little conversation, and that smudge darkens to black. Step away, wait, and the traces gradually lighten and disappear. The viewer creates meaning in the art in a very literal, if transient, way.

    David Rosetzky
    From memory

    Could any maker, weaver, not love, love, love this? In this photomontage portrait of Stephen Phillips the actor plays with a length of string, a metaphor for the act of remembering. The double exposure suggests the passage of time. I think of people telling stories as they make shapes, illustrations, in string between their fingers.

    David Moore
    Moon writing series

    The beautiful lines continue – these works by David Moore seeming so connected to Philip Hunter’s work up near the top of this post. Here the photographer used his camera as a drawing instrument, under the full moon in Tasmania, moving to create shapes. Rhythm, elegance, incredible skill; a flow and a spark.

    All this and the long weekend still wasn’t over. We had a spare hour before setting off for Sydney, so returned to the NGA to breeze through American Masters.

    American Masters
    As I write this post this exhibition is in its final hours, and I am so annoyed with myself. I needed much, much, much more time here.

    Alexander Calder
    Night and day

    Walking up the long, high, dimly lit, hallway to the special exhibition space, this mobile by Calder speeds your pace. Backlit, a series of red ovals can be discerned, with two circles, black and white, moving amongst them. Get closer and look down – a white circle, filled with circular shadows.

    It was quite different with the Calder work I saw at NGV this year. The post was 15-Sep-2018, but I didn’t include any photos. Remedying that:


    My brain registers everything as circles, even when I concentrate on it.
    It’s not just my photography. From the institution websites:


    I think there are enough clear circles on the MoMA work that I accept all of them as circles, even those at an angle that makes them just a vertical line. In the NGV version all the red shapes appear oval, with the odd effect that the proportions change as I walk towards them.

    Is there something to exploit here? For my own work, don’t know. For the person who designed the NGV presentation, with that white circle on the ground and the shadows – brilliant!

    Most of my time was spent visiting old friends:

    Eva Hesse
    Contingent
    Post 7-Jun-2015

    Mark Rothko
    1957 # 20
    Post 27-Dec-2013

    Blue Poles, of course (post 26-Dec-2013). A few more.
    Why is that? Is it a comfort thing? I think more that for me they are strong things, works that I continue to think about, that influence in some way the way I see the world and other art, including my own.

    So maybe some new friends:

    Alan Sonfist
    Earth monument to New York

    Alan Sonfist
    Earth monument to New York

    Core samples of stratified stone, drilled from between 1.5 and 40 metres below ground level in different locations across New York City. Monumental. Fascinating in detail. Seeing what is usually hidden – the structure of the land beneath us. Centering. Dare I say, grounding.

    There was a quote from Sonfist on the signage: “My feeling is that if we are going to live in a city, we have to create an understanding of the land… We have to come to a better understanding of who we are and how we exist on the planet.”

    Hans Hofmann
    Untitled
    (1943)

    The energy and excitment! While writing this up, I found a great description on the NGA website – read it there.

    This post has taken enormously more time than I intended. My son sensibly pointed out that I enjoyed it. Plus I know that this process of later thinking and relooking helps me retain memories – and the blog acts as a supplementary memory too. So before I move on, time to record just a couple of works in the general NGV collection that caught my eye.

    E. Phillips Fox
    Promenade

    Stripes! Diagonal lines! Too many posts, too much material, relate to those. My final assignment for the Open College of the Arts course Understanding Western Art is one. I’ve been enjoying analysing the structure of this painting.

    Jane Sutherland
    A cabbage garden

    Why do I like this so much? It seems to trigger a memory that I can’t track down. Something about the composition? That bending figure? In my memory the colours have more purple. Something familiar…


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