Archive for the 'Weekly roundup' Category

Variations on a theme

That heading isn’t quite it. A sense of recognition or familiarity, but in a new context or with a different emphasis, going deeper or at a tangent. Of richness, complexity. Resonance.

A small example: This week’s lecture at AGNSW, Peter Kohane speaking on “Ancient Greece: the invention of the classical orders”. Back to The Canon, which so puzzled me when studying art history (13-Apr-2013) – but totally different. This time round the focus was on the analogy between a human being and the columnar orders, underpinned by the concept of the human body as a type of perfection. The idea of timber temple elements imitated in stone was familiar, then enriched with more detail, with the idea that the monument has within it a sense of time and a memory of earlier ceremonies. The formal nature of a Greek temple – no straight lines, but curves which compensate for angle of view and fall of light. And suddenly it’s a philosophical question: where does truth lie – “objective”, or in relation to the beholder who perceives an ideal beauty?

Another from this week, and also relating to the art history course: a visit to The Barracks museum in Sydney. Previously seen 11-May-2013 when it was all about the architecture. Visited this week, I appreciated the history it presented – particularly related to convicts and 19th century immigration; plus the reflection on the nature of the museum itself – the archaeological dig, the choices made in displaying aspects of the building and its history.

Lots more musing going on, but let’s up the tempo and look at something solid.

A variant of setup for resin had a range of heat-distressed fabrics (4-Feb-2018) suspended over drip trays lined with plastic and filled with oddments and experiments.

Raffia in resin

Threads in resin

More threads in resin

Rubber bands in resin

The drip tray contents were selected with an eye to the moving water theme.

On initial review none really excite, but they’ll all go in the stash as holders of possibilities and potential.

Possibly it was false economy. The fabrics don’t have as thick a coating of resin as would have been possible if I’d kept scooping up and re-applying the drips until the resin exothermic reaction kicked in. Lots to play with here, especially manipulating the fabric as the resin hardens.

Although not quite as robust as envisaged, some of the fabric has been cut and looping in wire added.

Heat distressed fabric in resin, looping in galvanised steel

A very pleasing result. Light, texture, shine, transparency, an ocean swell.

A very different variation on the watery theme started with some steel offcuts from welding what is now known as Waymarker (22-Jan-2017 and 4-Feb-2018).

Metal cut and transformed

Cut out with a jeweller’s piercing saw, drilled to create a classic moving water symbol. Smoothed and polished.

After a few classes which included using the saw the process felt good.

The next step of incorporating some basketry techniques and materials already using in codename confluence was a little tricker, but overall I think the result works with other elements.

Steel, threads. Random weave.

The hope remains that the different pieces will come together and transform under gallery lights and the movement of the mobile.

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.

Some momentum

Pace and energy are beginning to build. It’s a good feeling.

Object 2 of embargoed project 1 has been painted and just needs a check, touch up and tidy up to be done. It’s due for installation with its peers later this month. A teaser photo when it’s entirely done, and hopefully full details of the project can be shared soon.

The other potential project is looking more and more certain. I’m contributing two pieces.

Waymarker

The first has been seen before – an output from the welding sculptures workshop with Paul Hopmeier last year (22-Jan-2017). Given this new (still potential) exhibition is being developed in a very short time, recent and relevant work is being accepted as well as new work.

The work was never entirely finished, so the rust has been largely cleared off (not entirely – I think some is appropriate to my ideas about it) and some wax has been applied for a glow and to protect against ongoing rusting. I’m really happy that it’s going to have a chance to been shown.

Play continues on a new piece for this exhibition. The thinking behind includes currents and eddies and flashes of sunlight in a river.

Some looping techniques in different weights of wire might just possibly suggest droplets of water in the sun. A range of synthetic fabrics in watery colours have been heat treated and I’m planning resin. On the right is a scrap piece of resin with threads embedded, cut out and used as a centre for neolithic twining (? never sure of this – need to check with the basketry people) in wire. Not the colours I want, but some very exciting possibilities being generated.

Also this week I started a beginners class in silversmithing. Too soon to have anything to show, but it seems exactly what I need to address the problems experienced in the Sturt summer school class (7-Jan-2018).

There’s even been reading! Plus the first of this year’s lecture series at the Art Gallery.

Glimpses of potential

Back at the day job + warm weather = slow progress

Object 2 of the embargoed project has been a roller-coaster. There are competing practicalities of sturdiness and weight – last night I was thinking of abandoning the attempt, today a balance seems closer. Basic construction is close to complete, but lots of finishing ahead.

It’s been an opportunity to try out a new tool – a ClampTite. This elegant little steel and brass number helps you bind wire around – well, nice firm tubes are easiest, but pretty much anything as long as you have space to work it. My project wasn’t ideal, but still a big improvement both visually and in effectiveness over my hand bound attempt on the left in the photo.

Play continues on the potential project. I’ve been thinking about all the materials and techniques I’ve been using in the last couple of years, also how I want to work (Ruth Hadlow’s streams). It might seem like I’ve been going in all sorts of directions, but things circle round, come together, inform each other, find some kind of balance…

Process and play


A good week, but not a lot I can show. Still it seems to be an important thing for me to pause and review on a regular basis.

The unmentionable object first glimpsed 26-Dec-2017 has been completed. The project is still under embargo, so no details (except for the photo above, which is all details). It follows that the second object I’m making for this project must also remain in the shadows.

Thinking about another potential project has begun, but that isn’t confirmed yet so… nothing to see here 😦

Instead a little general musing about process and play. How does one approach an exhibition theme? What does a viewer expect – and should I consider that?

One approach to the theme could include mind-maps and mood boards and sketches and plans. Not appealing (makes me feel claustrophobic) and I think something directly connected, even narrative, isn’t for me. I’ve been thinking about what I’ve learnt from Ruth Hadlow (see 25-Feb-2016 among other posts). So treat the theme as the beginning of a chain of thought and experimentation, and see what I’ve got when time is about up.

“Creativity” – definitions generally seem to involve creating something (physical or otherwise) new or novel and somehow of value or use. Imagination may be mentioned. But how much is truly novel? Play, curiosity and problem solving seem more relevant. And I love applying ideas or techniques learnt in a different area.

Quite a bit of reflecting, not much writing. To finish this lopsided and vague post, a pointer to something worth your time if in Sydney – Rembrandt and the Dutch golden age: masterpieces from the Rijksmuseum, at AGNSW until 18 February. I’ve been a few times – not directly inspirational, but for the interest of art history and the simple pleasure of looking.

Soft sculpture Twining and more

Judy Dominic, wrapping up two days of exploration

The highlight of recent days was a workshop with Judy Dominic – Soft Sculpture Twining – organised by Basketry NSW.

Two days, two apparently simple techniques – twining and a ribbing/edging – , two weights of seagrass cord, infinite possibilities.

The combination of material and technique produced a malleable fabric that could be turned, punched, folded, stretched out of shape… Spokes and weavers were moved as needed. As long as you have the length, you have options. And if you need to, you can always add length in different ways.

Judy moved around the class constantly, encouraging, supporting, challenging. One piece-in-progress, and in discussion there were possibilities for a few years’ investigation.

Class work

A general photo doesn’t capture the individuality, the wide range of responses of the participants. A few highlights below (click on a photo for a larger view):

I concentrated on a sampler of options rather than finished work. Two samples in fact, which then were joined, twisted and pummeled, pulled into a possibility for the group display, and since partly dismantled so I can keep playing.


Next will be trying out some ideas using some of my more familiar materials. It will be interesting to see how that changes the performance of the results.

Exhibition
Adman: Warhol before popAGNSW

Andy Warhol
Progressive Piano (hands on piano keys)

The exhibition is huge, lots of photos and ephemera from Warhol’s life as well as his work.

I followed my eye.

Warhol’s blotted line technique results in some fascinating lines, sometimes strong, sometimes tentative, with rhythms and hesitations that had me holding my breath as I followed them across the page.
The use of collage, especially in blocks of colour that draw the eye and emphasize areas without directly responding the the lines, is particularly exciting.

Andy Warhol
Marbleized paper (detail)

The AGNSW website has videos demonstrating a number of Warhol’s techniques, including blotted-line and marbleizing. Definitely techniques I would like to explore myself. I’ve challenged myself with collage in the past (see for example 22-Sep-2016 and 31-Dec-2016 – it doesn’t come naturally to me), and combining it with a monotype-ish technique would be an interesting extension.

Andy Warhol, Julia Warhola
‘It’s a real genuine fake’

Text is another excitement in many of the displayed works, most the work of Warhol’s mother Julia Warhola. It brings a level of detail, intricacy, and draws the viewer in to read and see more. There’s more of the quirky individuality, like the blotted lines, where smooth flowing progression is replaced by a fragmenting rhythm, syncopated, stretching, bending, crowding unevenly down the page. (OK, so the example shown isn’t the most extreme on a number of those counts).

Andy Warhol
Cosmetics

Cosmetics combines lines and dynamic forms brought together with transparent colours, some duller, following the drawn line, others brighter, linking and framing.

I wasn’t expecting to like this exhibition, not “serious” enough perhaps, but I’ve been back a couple of times and felt invigorated, energized by it. It’s in its last days, so you’ll need to hurry.

Dance
Orb Sydney Dance Company

Two newly commissioned dance pieces, one with beautiful costumes and flowing, rippling movement, the other more street gritty, confined, with an amazing sequence of bodies weaving in space.

Had me thinking about what “rhythm” means.

Talks
All part of the AGNSW lecture series Site Specific: The power of place.

Jane Messenger: “Soap suds and white wash: JMW Turner and the Sea”
Turner’s innovation and his influence on other artists such as Monet and Pissaro were interesting, but what has stayed with me are the closing two paintings, one from early in Turner’s career, one late, both showing a vortex of ships, water, spray.

Dr Ruth Pullin: “Eugene von Guérard and Cape Schanck”
Von Guérard was a traveller with an ability to quickly discerne the essence of a place, and an eye for seeing the picture in nature. He was also a man of his time, interested in geology and other science, a convergence of the romantic (the enormity of space) and the scientific (accurate topology). Seeing sketchbook and finished works is always illuminating, especially the open air painting in the German tradition, oil studies rather than a standard sketchbook.

Von Guérard spent just 30 of his 90 years in Australia, 1852 – 1882. I knew him as a painter of Australia and New Zealand. It was odd to see early work, from his extensive training in Germany and Italy, showing his intimate knowledge of the Neander Valley.

While writing this post I came across the abstract of Ruth Pullin’s PhD thesis (link). Impossible to follow up everything 😦

Dr Alison Inglis: “Sir John Everett Millais – the allure of Scotland”
The paintings we looked at showed an emotional sincerity, psychological spaces, collapsing perspective, slightly flattened space and emphasis of silhouettes.

Sometimes. The paintings also showed a journey of technique and style, to a much lesser extent of subject, over the course of a lifetime’s work. That doesn’t make it less sincere, a young man controversial and anti-establishment, the older man president of the Royal Academy of Arts – the establishment. A sell-out or bolder? Does it matter? – focus on the work.

Dr Chiara O’Reilly: “Barbizon and Jean François Millet”
Something noble can be made of the humblest of life.

O’Reilly argued that in Millet’s works, even those apparently empty of human figures, there is a theme of labour, of the shaping and defining of the land by humans. In many pictures of course the figure(s) are strong, powerful, dominating – The Sower, in ways The Gleaners. The figures of the poorest are given dignity by the attention Millet gives, the scale, layering the real with memory and inspiration.

As a textile person I need to point out the knitting – much knitting. We’ve lost touch with the cost, the effort, of clothing ourselves.

Trial and error

… although all is trial and learning, nothing is error when playing ??

Sugar tong and resin

The sugar-tong-end earrings seen last week got new inserts. These started as sample p3-45 in the Mixed Media for Textiles course (23-Sep-2015), threads partially embedded in a thin sheet of resin.

Sample p3-45

It turns out this stuff is easy to cut, sand and drill, and as I noted back then the thread effect is particularly effective when backlit.

I wore the earrings in this form for a day, but they still looked like wearing spoons. Shortening the stem has helped, and this may well be the final version – although it’s a powerful realisation than anything can be taken apart and used as components elsewhere.

Sugar tong ends and resin – final version?

Agapanthus earrings

These agapanthus earrings aren’t going anywhere in this iteration. They’re based on a component in a proto-neckpiece done in Keith Lo Bue’s class (23-Apr-2017). They just look clumsy and lumpen. Less energy, less joy. The idea’s time will come, one day.

Finally a piece in progress. It’s a larger, hopefully refined version of a sample seen 23-Apr-2017. Almost all the material is in there. Now it’s a matter of finessing the form, doing a little more forging, and then major polishing. Hours of fun ahead 🙂

Cold forged and random woven steel in progress


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