Archive for the 'Projects' Category

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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Photographing shadows

Not many words today. I have some incomplete thoughts and reading on shadows and reflections, also the artist and viewer in the frame. Recent viewing of Rosslynd Piggott’s Tremor (12-Jul-2019); reading about Velázquez’s Las Meninas in Laura Cumming’s book The Vanishing Velázquez, about shadow in A Short History of the Shadow by Victor Stoichita, and its importance in photography and sculpture in The Original Copy: Photography of sculpture, 1839 to today. Trying to figure out what exactly is attracting my attention. So a little experiment, something that may or may not become a series. Take a photo of shadows, or a reflection. Then again, with me (or my shadow) in the frame. An un-selfie?





The first three were around the neighbourhood. The final one at the Museum of Contemporary Art, shadow provided by Matter Matters by Danie Mellor.

Plus another tower, trying for some deeper shadows and less fiddling in the software.

I’m off to Hobart soon, for another session with Ruth Hadlow and the group. It will be good to take a step back, plan some steps forward, and share some wonderful hours of talking and reading.

Experiments in materiality

The earlier Towers gifs (21-Jul, 22-Jul, and another 22-Jul) were jerky, with inconsistent and flat lighting. Barely adequate as documentation of the process, but not satisfying.

Time to experiment.

Step 1: To reduce the immediate recognisability of the crockery and to put more focus on the combined shape of the eventual tower, I sponge painted individual items with a mix of gesso and pva glue. It doesn’t stay on particularly well, but does reduce visual differences of materials and may get a tiny bit of “tip of the tongue” delayed recognition.

Step 2: Hoping to encourage some emotional intensity, I mended the crockery broken so far using the kintsugi-ish techniques learnt in a workshop with Naomi Taplin (7-Oct-2018). It makes more concrete the real risk in the towers. I used a lot of glue to make raised, scar-like weals. I also left some gaps and discontinuities.

I chose to use silver thinking of the importance of mirrors and the way they bring the viewer into the work in recent viewing/reading – the thin strip in Rosslynd Piggott’s Tremor (12-Jul-2019); the reflection in the mirror in Las Meninas by Velázquez (recent reading The Vanishing Velázquez by Laura Cumming); an observation by Briony Fer in Eva Hesse: Studiowork on the action of the reflection in the glass pastry cases used as display mechanisms by Hesse.

Step 3: As a further level of not-quite recognisable I tried casting a cup in other materials – wrapped then heat-shrunk plastic (based on sample p2-70 of the Mixed Media for Textiles course – 22-Jul-2015); and using composimold (sample p3-25, 6-Sep-2015).

Nowhere close to tip of the tongue, all sense of risk and fragility lost, and without the structure to work in a tower.

Materiality combination

Step 4: Wanting a more visually interesting result I tried side lighting, to get some shadows, curves, form.

At this stage I don’t think it can be classed as “energizing objects”, the originating brief to myself. Not quite good enough to be anything in particular.

Step 5: In a recent lecture at AGNSW Michael Hill expounded on the importance of shadows falling in photography of sculpture. He often chose older, black and white images of works in preference to modern, flat, colour photography. This weekend I downloaded the latest version of gimp, so I experimented with a new-to-me filter. Two versions based on the photo above.


I printed the variation on the right onto watercolour paper, slightly over A4. I think this has promise. Some more towers using different settings of the same filter:

Morning List

A list inspired by Georges Perec. Over recent months I have developed and honed a morning routine which costs a bit of sleep, requires some focus and dedication, and lets me lock in an hour of reading and reviewing every morning before I leave the house.

Click the image below to open the pdf.

I know that for some the idea of routine is stultifying, numbing to the brain and deadening creativity. To me it is a framework that carves out time and space, that gives me freedom. To me it looks like this:

A mass of collapsing towers

Following up the series idea from my previous post.

Collapsing towers continued

This time a comparison of display formats.

First: a gif made using gimp

Second: an mpg using PowerDirector

Third: a gif with fades, using ezgif.com

Not a huge difference in file sizes.

Any thoughts?

At the moment I’m leaning towards the gif from gimp. Jerky, but crisper. So another tower using that.

Some work to be done on consistent lighting. A couple of frames there the camera decided to “help” with it’s own flash.

And there’s yet another series that I haven’t processed yet. It doesn’t get as high, but did result in a smash – something I find interesting.

And at last there’s one of my favourite words. Interesting. I’m beginning to feel engaged.

The original intention was to use materials more familiar to a hypothetical viewer. More chances of resonance, connection. But these crockery bits don’t have a lot of that for me. A couple of orphan things gifted by friends who knew I was breaking up plates for earring pieces. Some other bits from a local op shop. A rummage around the backs of cupboards. Nothing precious to me – because I’m expecting breakages to suggest risk, but at the same time don’t want to risk something precious. All very circular.

But now pieces are becoming familiar. I’m learning how things work together. I have plans for the broken pieces, and also for bringing in just a bit more coherence in the group, trying for an uneasy balance (!) between individual items and a single whole of a tower. There are connections to some reading and thinking I’ve been doing around memory – not nostalgia, but how we form memories. How we remember “memories” – which may or may not reflect the past.

I’m also finding the idea of a series that just keeps on and on, pushing one’s endurance level, but somehow forcing its way to becoming something more.

There have been doldrums, but the wind is picking up…

Collapsing tower experiments

The Energizing Objects stalled. This weekend it morphed into collapsing towers, exploring materiality, hoping for higher risk. A further experiment is the use of gifs to present the building series. And a final experiment – what does this look like on the blog?

No discussion at this point. Working through the technical issues.


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