Archive for the 'Out and about' Category

Metal and more

Codename Confluence
Previously this was known as “other potential project” (4-Feb-2018). Thinking and work is progressing on the new piece, still based on moving water, particularly river currents, eddies, backwaters, billabongs… I’m expecting it to take the form of a mobile (not locked in yet) – balance is another part of the story. So far focus has been on developing some individual elements, looking for some level of transparency so they interact with the light and gallery environment.

Silver fabric in resin, coiling

Photographed propped against a waterglass to give an idea of how it could look in open space, this is about 11.5 cm diameter. Not convinced I like the soft texture of the threads against the hard surfaces of resin and galvanised steel wire I’m using elsewhere. The v-stitch of the coiling reminds me of zigzag graphic designs for water.

Thread in resin, neolithic twining in wire

Really like this combination of threads in resin and neolithic twining in steel wire. It’s 12.5 cm wide. If I have time I want to make a companion piece exploring this combination further.

Metal smithing class with Jane Tadrist
Nine hours over three weeks at Sydney Community College, this was a great chance to consolidate and extend my metal working skills.

Copper tealight in progress

We could choose to make a cuff or a tealight. I really wanted to get a handle on soldering, so went for the tealight. The design reflects my “moving water” theme, and was deliberately kept simple so I could finish in good time.

Soldering was completed in the final minutes of the class (yay!). I should be able to do the finishing here at home.

vessel wip from Christian Hall class

Sadly that meant I didn’t have time to complete the soldering still required on my little vessel begun in the Christian Hall workshop (7-Jan-2018). In theory Jane was happy for me to work on it – but dratted time got me again.

Hope is not lost. I’ve booked on another class with Jane later this year. Maybe third time lucky for this little brass object. Another possibility is setting up a soldering area in my workroom at home – hoping that will happen before the end of the year.

Lady and the Unicorn exhibition
Six stunning tapestries made circa 1500 are now on exhibit at the Art Gallery of NSW, on loan from France.

Detail of The sixth sense – heart, desire or will

While there are side galleries of interpretive detail, the actual tapestries are in a single dimly lit room, surrounding the viwer. The impact is amazing. I’m not sure how big they are. The Lady could be near life size.

Still a detail

The photo above shows one small detail in the largest tapestry. To the right is another view of the same piece – still just a detail.

There’s lots of information and many much better photos on the gallery website linked above. All very accurate and objective and academic. The works themselves, the whole experience of standing there drinking them in, is an emotional and physical thing.

ARTEXPRESS 2018 exhibition
Also at AGNSW is this year’s selection of student artworks developed for the artmaking component of the HSC examination in Visual Arts 2017.

How Irrigating
Hannah Raeside

A wonderful mix of media and intent. I particularly enjoyed Hannah Raeside’s work playing with garden hose and fittings. It’s an exploration of shape and form, taking something very prosaic and creating abstract beauty.

Hobart

In November I spent an extra-long weekend in Hobart with my mother and sister.

MONA
Museum of Old and New Art. Hard to describe if you haven’t heard of it, so quoting from the website: Mona is one man’s ‘megaphone’ as he put it at the outset: and what he wants to say almost invariably revolves around the place of art and creativity within the definition of humanity. I found it fascinating, frustrating, annoying, amazing, pretentious… Certainly not bland. There is just so much stuff that it is overwhelming – something you could say about many galleries and museums and places of entertainment, but here sometimes excess seems to be an end in itself. I think it is quite deliberate about unsettling people. At times I felt crassly manipulated, it was a bit obvious. At other times I wasn’t aware of it, but pretty sure it was still happening. Some very clever and very professional people at work here.

I think my hard-won and still limited knowledge of art and art history was both put to the test and at times shown to be irrelevant. And it’s pretty human not to enjoy that feeling. So I’ll focus here on the spots where interests overlapped.

Julia Krause-Harder
(detail)

There were a number of dinosaurs by Julia Krause-Harder. I didn’t get a good photo, but the detail shows what I responded to – weaving using cable ties, plastic and other probably repurposed materials. Here some of the frustration comes in. MONA doesn’t have labels on walls. They provide lots of information on “the O” – iOS only. In many ways great when you’re there – they have devices for you to carry around if you don’t worship at that particular temple. Not so good for me, as usually I take a photo of the wall info whenever I photograph an artwork, making it easy to refer back. So incomplete information here.

bit.fall, 2001–06, Julius Popp

A waterfall, with words derived from news and other feeds, processed through some clever algorithm then fed into mechanism like a hybrid of inkjet printer and sprinkler system. Fascinating to watch and wonder about the news stories the words are derived from. Some words I thought I could place from current events, others remain a mystery.

MONA is very low profile from the outside. Most of it is down within the cliff of a peninsula on the Derwent River. Many large public buildings have a big atrium opening out above you after a narrow or relatively low entry point, to inspire a sense of awe and wonder in those entering. MONA does it upside down – you enter an apparently single storied building, lots of light, the shop and cafe, then descend into the depths by spiral stairs or lift where the subterranean atrium is indeed awe-inspiring. Julius Popp’s work dominates that space, and as you work your way up through the galleries you come to it again and again at different levels.

Judith Scott – detail


Judith Scott

Wandering rather listlessly through a labyrinth of small rooms and corridors, this caught the corner of my eye and I raced (I’m hoping there was no pushing involved, but couldn’t swear to it). Unmistakable. Fascinating and complex and engrossing and for me a moment of peace and absorption in a strident environment. I’ve written in this blog many times about Scott’s work – just do a search top right. No more to say and words aren’t the point.

Fat Car, 2006 Erwin Wurm

One of the more popular exhibits I suspect, Fat Car is just that. A sleek sportscar has been modified and is now corpulent, with rolls of shiny duco flab. Even the black leather seats bulge. A neat critique of our culture.

Brett Whitely

Tucked away in a corner was a mass of “traditional” artworks – oil on canvas type things. The photo above shows a very large and I think overall lovely work by Brett Whitely. He’s not one of my favourite artists – the self promotion is a bit thick and I start feeling suffocated. Here it comes as a disembodied hand and, from memory, eyeball (not a believer in subtlety), but there’s so much else I can still breathe and think my own thoughts.

The MONA excess can just be glimpsed at the edges of the photo above. Lots by Sidney Nolan and various others hung salon style. (There was a huge, HUGE work by Nolan in another area.)

Altogether a challenging and interesting day. I’d love to go back by myself, immerse and challenge myself.

In and around Hobart
We spent some time walking around Hobart. Salamanca Markets have a very good name, and we spent a hot and sunny Saturday there. Mawson’s Huts Replica Museum brought the temperature down. The museum is a replica of the huts built in 1911 in Cape Denison, Antarctica. The central living area has been reproduced with great detail, the bunks, stove, tables used by the men of the expedition. Fascinating.

At the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery we focused on historical exhibitions. First was Our land: parrawa, parrawa! Go away!, a sobering and painful telling of the story of the invasion of the island and the Black War. Just one level down in the historic Bond Store building was Our changing land: Creating Tasmania. On its website the museum invites the visitor to “investigate the making of Tasmania, and explore how the state has become a place of environmental change and complexities, of creativity and of a particular social identity”. It was hard to enter the spirit of that, seeing all the domestic treasures accumulated by the colonists, all the time hearing through the ceiling above the audio of the Black War exhibition.

One of the major reasons for visiting Hobart was to seek out places visited by a great-great… uncle who came out to Hobart in the early 1840s (mum’s research is at https://megshistory.wordpress.com/john-chester-jervis/). A decade after the period of the Black War, but the visit to the Museum certainly gave some perspective and context to the opportunities young John Chester Jervis was seeking.

Richmond Bridge

A short drive out from Hobart took us to Richmond and the bridge which was constructed by convict labour 1823-1825 – the oldest stone span bridge in Australia. To complete the sunny picture a couple of boys in red came running down to fish and be reflected in the waters, while ducks thoughtfully paddled their way into the shot.

While in Richmond we also visited the Old Hobart Town model village, again showing a period a bit before John Chester’s arrival. Together with a drive-by of the only Hobart address we know related to him (the house where he was married, long since over-built), this rounded out our “research”.

Tahune AirWalk

Tahune AirWalk
View of cantilever section, taken from early part of the walk


Huon River from Tahune AirWalk

A longer day trip was to Tahune AirWalk, a suspended walkway above the forest canopy next to the Huon River. It was another hot day and somewhat airless in the valley, but beautiful in the dappled light of the trees. The Huon River is dark, its waters coloured by tannins. Birds and insects flew around us. Even the length of the walk – across the river and through the trees, then 600 metres of the walkway itself – was pretty much perfect for our party. There are other adventures available here, and you could stay longer or overnight if you wish, but we were happy and satisfied without.

Mount Wellington
Finally, given this has turned into a family travel blog rather than strictly art and creative practice (although I’ll maintain each part of life feeds and supports the other), a snapshot from the top of Mount Wellington

Top of Mount Wellington

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.

A day at AGNSW

Today I let my body and mind roam around the Art Gallery of NSW for a few hours. Going to what caught my attention, following my own train of thought rather than an artist’s intention, joyous and refreshing.

Loribelle Spirovski
John Bell at home

First the Archibald, and Loribelle Spirovski’s John Bell at home

I love the wonderful and free lines of the chair, and in contrast the heavy, thick, colourful paint of the flesh.

Loribelle Spirovski (detail)

There is such a strong sense of the person, the physical man. Such confidence, sense of self, commanding the large canvas. And a strong sense of light and space, the beautiful colour of the arm and hand in what may be window-light. Sitting in his space, this painting reminded me of The sock knitter by Grace Cossington Smith.

William Mackinnon
Landscape as self-portrait

In the Wynne, Landscape as self-portrait by William Mackinnon caught my eye. This was partly due to last weekend’s visit to houses by Harry Seidler (yet to be blogged), plus beautiful, beautiful colour, wonderful textures and pattern, a little glitter, and a sense of familiarity – of recognition and truth. For the artist it may be his emotional states, for me it triggered the senses – I could smell the salt, my hair sticky from a swim, the bitumen road hot under my bare feet, a cooling breeze… Home, arrival, anticipation.

Alexandra Standen
Relics from romantic attachments

Also in the Wynne, Alexandra Standen’s Relics from romantic attachments seemed quirky and fragile and almost like a little clique, clustered together in a corner. The artist writes of the meanings of collecting objects, nostalgia, “turning memories into delicate things”. Brittle but defiant, standing tall but delicately inclined, related but carefully individual.

Gregory Hodge
Mime

Mime by Gregory Hodge is in the Sulman exhibition. Lightness and movement – that thin vertical up from the bottom that everything dances around. It’s apparently based on a suspended construction – from life and photographs. What a great way for me to explore and extend my explorations with mobiles. Look at those flickering “shadows” that Hodge has created!

It reminded me of some recent reading – an exhibition review by Susan Noble of John Piper: The Fabric of Modernism, published in Textile, Volume 15, Issue 3. The show included preliminary collages and paintings, not reproduced but informing tapestry design. “The move from drawing, painting and collage to print, and weave in particular, means every instinctive response is reevaluated and reconsidered as the design process develops and transforms the original source… Textiles transform gesture to object, gesture to entity; accident and serendipity become deliberateness and consideration.” I love, love, love this idea of opening up to chance, the unexpected, and then distilling that, maybe a blast furnace of intellect and experience and all those qualities of the individual who is the artist. Moving back and forward between those states…

Mikala Dwyer: a shape of thought
The main event of the day. Four large spaces given over to the artist to transform. Five really, given the hovering silver balloons over the escalators.

Square cloud compound was filled with sewn cubes of fabric, lashed to the gallery itself with pantyhose, coloured posts holding nick-nacks, suspending reflectors and shapes. To me it was a wonderful playground, walking right into the installation, surrounded by colour and textile. The signage mentioned time spent by the artist on Cockatoo Island, which had me thinking of Erin Manning’s suspended fabrics in 2012, the 18th Biennale of Sydney (some detail 29-Jun-2015).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I looked carefully at the lamp posts, thinking there could be a mobile, but no … until the next gallery with A weight of space. Apparently Dwyer calls these mobiles “earrings for ceilings” which raised a smile. Look at the way the suspended plastic almost, so very nearly, touches the floor, distorting light, weightless space.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Next the great circle of Divisions and subtractions. Standing within the circle felt wonderful, right – a participant, in conversation with the work. My scrawled notes:
weight & gravity. balance. internal/external. see-through, reflection. geometric shapes and organic. correspondence. repetition. transformation or raw state of material.
I was entranced, totally engaged in the experience, breathing, listening, finding fresh and exciting links and contrasts, again the play with gravity and weightlessness, work gently hovering or suspended…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Finally in to a gallery with a series of works under the grouped name The letterbox Marys. More colour, textile – the whole series of rooms were linked by repeated materials, use of colour, play of ideas around gravity. (I know it’s different and there’s a lot more in the artist’s intent, but after briefly reading on-line I’ve decided that this day was about the impact of art on me, my experience, my little nuggets of joy).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


To finish, and also in that final gallery, Backdrop for Saint Jude. A final link for me – given my name, my brothers liked to remind me St Jude was patron saint of hopeless cases. I prefer the description I just found, Patron Saint of Hope and impossible causes. I’ve been known to tilt at some windmills in my time.

Mikala Dwyer
Backdrop For Saint Jude

Rebecca Baumann
Mixed feelings

And onward still, turning corners on a whim to see what I would see. In Out of the ordinary there was Mixed feelings by Rebecca Baumann. It’s the work on the ground in the photo to the right. On the wall behind can be seen Torpedo by Sara Hughes. At first I thought the idea might be around the different impact of a work on the floor rather than the wall. Then I realised it was loose pieces of paper and wondered it referred to waste. Then I read the signage and discovered there is a printer suspended from the ceiling, every 3 minutes feeding out two pieces of paper that float to the ground, generally landing on the raised platform.

Rebecca Baumann
action shot

The action shot may give an impression of movement, if no detail 🙂

Does that make it more interesting? I obediently experienced mixed emotions. If you’re going to have a printer, I really want it to print. Imagine that with bits of text, disjointed. A story or random? Something intriguing, teasing, revealed and concealed…

One piece of paper fluttered down and missed the platform. It sat there. I looked at it. Then turned my back and wandered to look at other works. Later it had moved … well, more properly I suspect I should write it had been moved.

Ambivalent, I moved on.

Rashid Johnson
Colour men

I came to Something living, in particular Colour men by Rashid Johnson. Materials include ceramic tile, black soap, wax (and enamel paint? my photo of the wall sign is blurry).

The detail on the left may show the lumpy texture on the surface.

The mark making is energetic, exciting, revealing colour. I was fascinated by the way the line changed colour as it crossed from tile to tile. Still, I don’t think you can get away from the idea of it looking like excrement smeared over the walls of a public toilet block. Scratching through to find the person. Graffiti. Urban decay. So I see unhappy men, grimacing, perhaps trapped and constrained in their actions by a hostile society. I expected it to smell. It was colourful, but not joyful.

I wandered upstairs. Quickly into Victorian watercolours for a photo (for another post that’s been part-written for a while. I’ve decided to keep up with the new and catch up on exhibitions seen over recent months when I can). And then to a fairly recent acquisition of work by Inge King – Captive.

My notes again: we carry our prisons with us. tapering shapes, ribs, fingers. block for head. What little we need to perceive the figure, the space around (here enclosing, containing).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I looked at the welding, then scurried down for a final photo of Mikala Dwyer’s work.

It really isn’t the point, but I feel much happier about my welding. I need to get back to that – there is a Plan, but more medium term.

A really refreshing, inspiring, happy day. So lucky.

Technology detour

This blog has been quiet a few weeks while I changed up my use of technology. I’ll give a brief outline in case any is of use to others, and so I can compare to actual outcomes later.

Issues:

  • My existing smart phone was a few generations old. I rarely used the phone functionality and found the screen too small to be comfortable for reading or internet browsing on the go. The battery life was getting shorter and shorter.
  • I’ve been doing heaps of textile-related reading, but with no specific college assignment in mind. Interesting and I will remember major concepts, but my notes were scattered in various notebooks and pieces of paper. I’d never be able to find things again.
  • A minor point that tipped me over the balance point – I have a new wrist fitness tracker (www.fitbit.com/), and my mobile phone was too old to talk to it via bluetooth.
  • Wish list:

  • Ability to take notes on the go – say when reading on the bus.
  • All notes stored in one place.
  • Search facilities for all my notes.
  • Screen large enough to read comfortably – saved pdfs, internet browsing, …
  • Still a phone, with my existing phone number – as a secondary requirement.
  • Stylus.
  • Able to snip internet text and photos, annotate, highlight parts, and include search info for use with other notes.
  • GIMP or other image manipulation software.
  • Camera, possibly with ability to connect to my big camera.
  • Earpiece to listen to podcasts, recorded lectures etc.
  • Ability to sync with fitbit.
  • samsung_noteResult:

  • Samsung Note 10.1″ 4G (2014 Edition) (www.samsung.com/au/
    consumer/mobile-phone/tablet/tablet/SM-P6050ZKAXSA
    ). This includes a styles that fits neatly in the tablet, and software that integrates its use.
  • BlueAnt bluetooth earpiece (www.myblueant.com/products/headsets/q3/).
  • Evernote (https://evernote.com/) on both my PC and the new tablet. All my notes end in the same place. There are good search facilities. There are download/export options so I can make my own backups without relying on the cloud, or the ongoing availability of the software.
  • GIMP Inkscape (play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.gimp.inkscape&hl=en). The basic layout and facilities are familiar, but I’m still getting used to the smaller tablet screen and slightly different implementation.
  • It took some effort, being referred to more and more technical helpdesks, but I was able to transfer my existing phone number to the tablet with a suitable sim only plan.
  • A minor point which rounds it out. Not only will it sync with my fitbit, so I can immediately watch my wiggly heartbeat line, but the fitbit has caller id. It vibrates and displays the name of the incoming caller.
  • After only a few days I’m still learning, but loving it. I’m still experimenting with the mix of apps, but the data input is great – there’s a keyboard form that intelligently suggests words etc, but also handwriting recognition that can cope with my lousy running writing on a bumpy bus. I can sit on the bus, reading Textile (www.bloomsbury.com/au/journal/textile/) (paper version), search on the internet for more information about an exhibition or artist mentioned, make notes, snip quotes and photos – all with ease and knowing it will be available on the desktop when I get home. Walking along I have the tablet in my backpack, the earpiece safely in a pouch hanging from the shoulder strap. If a call comes in I get a discreet buzz on the wristband, and can have the earpiece in and call answered faster than I could ever fish out the old phone.

    The next question – is this still the honeymoon period, the rush of new technology toys? I’m hoping it’s the start of much more effective work methods that will support my ongoing studies as a part of general life.

    Exhibition: Pop to Popism

    This huge exhibition is currently on at the Art Gallery of New South Wales – http://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/exhibitions/pop-to-popism/. I’m going to focus on some works with textile elements in this post.

    Robert Rauschenberg Dylaby 1962
    http://www.rauschenbergfoundation.org/art/artwork/dylaby
    This is one of Rauschenberg’s “combines”, with elements from painting and sculpture. According to Wayne Tunnicliffe in the AGNSW catalogue “Rauschenberg often said that he aimed to bridge the gap between art and life” (p. 20). This isn’t slick and consumerist, yet it incorporates found items of consumer culture including a battered coke sign. The flat surface was a focus in abstract expressionism. Here the canvas has escaped to fall away from the underlying frame and to drape down to the floor. Also in the AGNSW catalogue, Chris McAuliffe writes that instead of an expression of the personal, inner life of the artist seen in abstract expressionism, “Rauschenberg proposed … an art premised on engagement with the world, in which ‘the imagery and the material and the meanings of the painting would not be an illustration of my will but more like an unbiased documentation of my observations’. This suggested that what American art required was not wild acts of assertion but a kind of realism that registered the artist’s responses to the everyday world of affluence and consumerism, media and technology. Rauschenberg charted these responses in layered arrays of found media imagery” (p.62)

    The idea of “combines”, including both painting and sculpture, seems very close to some of the ideas in Fiber: Sculpture 1960 – present (see 26-Dec-2014), particularly in the use here of the canvas.

    Tony Tuckson Pyjamas and Herald 1963
    http://cs.nga.gov.au/Detail.cfm?IRN=63776
    This works seems to contain narrative, the signs of an individual life. The newspaper placard gives a specific place and date – Sydney, March 1963. From a recorded interview with Tuckson’s wife on the NGA website I learnt that the pyjamas were her’s, discarded in a waste bin, and the hessian sacking was some of that roughly sewn by Tuckson to make studio curtains.

    There seems to be the gestures and dramatic sweeps of paint of abstract expressism combined with these found domestic objects. Denise Mimmocchi notes in the catalogue that this work “has clear affinities with Robert Rauschenberg’s combines, the hybrid form of painting and sculpture” and “Tuckson may also have intended a personal narrative through his collaged objects, yet of greater significance was his use of the canvas as an experimental ground for investing the painted gestures of abstract expressionism with the impact of real-life objects” (p. 152)

    As well as occupying an interesting place in art historical movements, this work has an impact, it holds the viewer’s gaze. For me the textile elements are particularly effective in evoking the domestic, the personal, the story, as well as in helping the artist break away from the flat surface.

    Enrico Baj General 1961 http://artsearch.nga.gov.au/Detail.cfm?IRN=107603 and Le Baron Robert Olive de Plassey, Gouverneur de Bengale 1966 (I couldn’t find an online image)
    In the AGNSW catalogue Anneke Jaspers writes “Baj noted that his creative agenda was not explicitly political, but had long been engaged in debunking ‘official stupidity'” (p. 128). Both the works in the exhibition are collages or assemblages of found items, including a lot of textiles (fabric, braids, tassels…). The General is posed like a child jumping from behind a door and shouting “boo”. His body is made of ineffective “camouflage” fabric, a visually noisy mix of cream, red and green, his chest is covered in sash and medals, his hair a mess of twisted fibres. The General is overtly masculine, apparently powerful, and yet quite ridiculous.

    The Governor of Bengal is happy in his bubble of power, also clearly masculine, with the trappings of power in medals and braids, backed by fabrics that are everything traditional, and apparently dazzled by the modern and hip with eyes of Beatles badges. A ridiculous figure, a puppet – and to me quite sinister, a potential petty dictator blind or indifferent to his misuse of power.

    In both works the textiles used are more than random found objects. They bring layers of history and meaning, showing the pomp and military/political power of these dangerous, stupid, limited men who fill the frame with their self-importance.

    Colin Lanceley Love me stripper 1963
    http://cs.nga.gov.au/Detail.cfm?IRN=45148
    The textile elements of this work are small in area, but very effective in the information they give. Lacy stockings and holed undergarments leave no doubt about the profession of the women shown.

    Claes Oldenburg Giant Soft Fan—Ghost Version 1967
    http://www.mfah.org/art/detail/giant-soft-fan-ghost-version/
    This is a very large sculpture of a desk fan – made of canvas, wood and polyurethane foam. Suspended from the ceiling it droops, deflated, casting grotesque shadows. It is shaped by gravity – Oldenburg’s “favourite form creator”. From Alexandra Gregg in the AGNSW catalogue: “With its oversized scale, lumps, bumps and crevices, the sculpture takes on an anthropomorphic guise and reminds us of the not-so flattering parts of our bodies. Its droopy limpness gives it a feeling of being tired or bored”. Also “By making us pay attention to these familiar objects in such unexpected ways, Oldenburg’s art is more an acceptance of the everyday world than a critique of consumer society” (p. 106).

    I find humour and a wonderful clear-eyed observation of the world in this work. It’s also exciting to see one of the major (potential) qualities of a textile, its drape or response to gravity, used to such good effect as an integral part of the work.

    As a group these works had me thinking again about all the different qualities and associations textiles can bring to an artwork.

    Reference
    Tunnicliffe, W. and Jaspers, A. (eds) (2014) Pop to Popism Sydney: Art Gallery of New South Wales


    Instagram

    Something about me and directions. Class sample on the left, my version on the right.

    Calendar of Posts

    February 2018
    M T W T F S S
    « Jan    
     1234
    567891011
    12131415161718
    19202122232425
    262728  

    Archives

    Categories