Wednesday, July 25, 2007

In search of the Creative Spark

I recently received a Creative Sparks grant from the Brisbane City Council to develop some new work (thanks Campbell!), but given my little uninspired malaise of late, I’ve decided to take a month or so off before I jump into this. So we’re going to head up to Far North QLD for a bit of adventure, hiking through marine parks and lazing around on warm tropical beaches. Oh the sacrifices one must make for arts sake! Then its down to Melbourne to visit old friends and new babies, to soak up the atmosphere, roam the galleries, freeze my ass off and (hopefully) get re-inspired! Sometimes walking away from it all is the best thing you can do! Cheerio then! Back in a few weeks!

Kirsten Coelho

There’s some damn fine ceramics being made in Australia, and I thought I might start showing you some if it, starting with one of my all time favourites Kirsten Coelho. She’s right up there near the top of my Favourite Australian Ceramicists list. This might sound weird (and I hope she doesn’t mind me saying this!) but whenever I see her work I want to hold it to my cheek! It’s the surfaces…those cool, beautiful glazes...simple, refined, contemporary and just downright beautiful! She's one clever lady. I've been having huge urges lately to get back on the wheel and throw me some pots (its been a while!), and work like this (and this) inspires me.

If you’re interested in finding out a bit more about Australian ceramics here’s a couple of links that might get you started - Craft Culture, Journal of Australian Ceramics, Australian Ceramics Blog (via Shannon).

Big Bob

I have long been a fan of Robert Dickerson’s work. From a very young age his charcoals and paintings have moved me. He has an incredible ability to capture both the strengths and the frailties of human existence, especially in his charcoals. His works can be melancholic, dark and moving, but also joyful and humorous. My Dad and I share a love of one particular Robert Dickerson work called The Dancers (pictured), a beautiful charcoal of two women dancing together. From what we have been able to gather it was based on dances held out at the Brookfield Community Hall, a beautiful little country community just outside of Brisbane. At a time when there were not a lot of men around (Second World War perhaps?) the women often had to dance with each other at these gatherings. There is something so sad yet so comforting and beautiful about that scenario.

His work is showing at Big Phil’s gallery in Fortitude Valley until July 28th. Better hurry! Some more links here and here.

Girl in the Paddock, 2007

Friday, July 20, 2007

Mentorship Grant Opportunity

Patsy Hely vases

Craft QLD/Artisan have just announced this year's mentorship grant. When I first graduated from uni about 6 years ago I recieved this grant, and spent three rather amazing months at the Canberra School of Art working with ceramic artist extraordinaire and all round great lady Patsy Hely (images above). It was a defining experience for me, and the skills and ideas touched upon during that time still impact greatly on me today. The chance to develop work under the guidance of someone like Patsy, to explore and exchange ideas, to learn new skills and experiment with different approaches, to reflect on new directions and possibilities for your practice....oh gush gush the benefits are endless!! I can't say enough about the value of these programs and highly encourage anyone who is eligible to get cracking on an application.

More info on the mentorship here, and you can read a wonderful article on Patsy Hely by the smarty pants Dr Sarah Rice here.

Out and About

I’ve been feeling a little uninspired of late. Normally brimful of ideas and bursting at the seams to make them all, I can’t help but get a little anxious when these moments creep up on me and I can’t seem to shake them. So I’m taking a little break and have spent the week looking at and thinking about other people’s work instead of my own. It’s been a veritable feast of yummy art work here in Brisvegas, with the Howard Arkley retrospective at GOMA, Robert Dickerson at Phillip Bacon, and Blast! out at Redcliffe Art Gallery. Blast! is a little gem of a show that looks at the influence of manga and contemporary Japanese culture on Australian artists. It includes work by Michael Doolan (image above, Big Boo Who, 2005), Patricia Piccinini and Alasdair Macintyre, to name just a few. Bum Crane and I made the trek out there today to catch it before it closes, and it was well worth it.

Rebuilding Babylonian Edifice, Alasdair Macintyre, 2004 (miniature tableaux of storm troopers examining Picasso's Geurnica)

After raiding the local Redcliffe bakery and scoring ourselves some very excellent op shop bargains, we took a walk along the pier stuffing our faces with bakery treats and soaking up the warm winter sun. Much better than an uninspired day in my cold studio!

some local fellas enjoying the Redcliffe sun

Friday, July 13, 2007

Hello Dolly

I am thinking of doing a regular update of Dolly, the mannequin from our local charity shop. I know it has very little to do with ceramics, but funny little things like this inspire me, and just give me a good laugh! And I think that's really important! The manager is very excited about the prospect of having his weekly efforts documented, and is putting in a whole lot of effort, as is evidenced by this latest get up! I have never seen a blanket look quite so elegant! And that headpiece...

And seeing as today is Friday the 13th, Dolly has taken a little walk over to the dark side....

Darth Vader Dolly! The headset even has a little electric box attached to it that booms out Darth's voice! I'm thinking of buying it. One can never have too many outfits in the dress-up box. And it's all for a good cause...

Friday, July 6, 2007

The Quivering

There is a wonderful piece of theatre starting next week in Melbourne that all of you Melbournians really should get along to. It's moving, it's funny, it's thought provoking, it raises all kinds of philosophical questions, it will have you laughing your head off and crying your eyes out all at the same time. But best of'll get to see my incredibly talented sister doing her thing! (Oh shameless plug!)

"The Quivering is an irreverent meditation on death and beyond.
Three co(s)mic waitresses - Shazza the dazzler, more-Maureen-more, and Singrid the poet - inhabit what appears to be an outback Australian roadhouse. Alongside this world exists another level, a limbo, where bodies are washed, moved and mourned, where souls are sung onward. As sirens serving up a seductive, monstrous and blissful hypothesis on dying, these waitresses create a lament for the inevitable journey we all must make."

It's on at La Mama Theatre (Carlton Courthouse) from July 11-22nd. More info here! Now go!

Love a list

I’m a chronic list writer. Every morning I start my day by writing a list. Unfinished things from the previous day get moved to the new list each morning. I’m one of those people. There is nothing more satisfying to me than scrawling big lines through items on my list (hanging out with me is always a lot of fun), and today is one of those special days when I get to scrawl a few of those nice big lines. Public art install finally finished yesterday (I sank into a relief and exhaustion induced coma about 4pm yesterday afternoon, not to stir until 7am this morning), a big box of work sent off to a beautiful shop in the USA called FINCH, and some (very late) orders and commissions posted off.

The down side is that as a result of this recent frenzy of activity my house and my studio look like they’ve been hit by a bomb - bubble wrap, boxes, stray pieces of work strewn everywhere. In the midst of the mayhem of the last few weeks I also decided it would be a good time to start sanding back my bedroom floor....which happens to be above my studio. Mmmmm. I really thought that one through...nice veil of sawdust… slipped down through the cracks… covering my entire studio….I'm just full of good ideas! So today is all about spring cleaning. It’s a daunting thought, but I know the satisfaction of having things “organised” again will be soooooo worth it....

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Introducing Dolly

Every morning we wander down to our local coffee shop for a kickstart coffee before heading off (well, home, in my case) to our respective jobs. Next door to the coffee shop is the Life Line charity store, and the manager takes great pride in his weekly window displays. They have become somewhat of a local attraction and Dolly, the mannequin, is a bit of local celebrity. We look forward to the weekly changes with such anticipation! Last week the manager was looking particularly happy with himself when we arrived for our morning coffee. I glanced next door and immediately understood why. He had really outdone himself with this little get up!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Marks and Gardner Exhibition

Kenji, Pru and I bundled up our work this morning and sent it off to Marks and Gardner Gallery up on Mt. Tambourine for the Ceramics and Glass 2007 exhibition, opening this weekend. Other exhibitors include Amanda Joe-Assare, Joanna Bone, Mollie Bosworth, Chris Pantano, Michaela Klockner, Jonathon Westacott and Cathy Keys. It should be a lovely show, and is a good excuse to get out of town and spend a day on the mountain! It opens July 8th (this Sunday) at 3pm. We'll all be there with bells - and a warm cardy - on. It gets cold up on that there mountain!

(Not quite) done and dusted

Well not much blogging going on of late. It’s been a hectic few weeks with lots of deadlines looming all at once and a few new (super exciting) projects getting underway. I feel like a whirling dervish as I spin around in circles flying from one thing to the next. But me no complain. It’s all good. In fact, I kind of thrive on that frenetic pace, and twiddle my thumbs and don’t know what to do with myself when it eases.

Friday was install day for my public art project. The never ending public art project. It only took me a few months to actually make the work, but the whole process has been unbelievably long - over 18 months from start to finish - with all the hoops that need to be jumped through, the meetings, the approvals, the coordination between construction companies, government, architects, artists…and my commission was a fairly straight forward, small, simple one compared to most!

The project itself is part of the Art Built-In Policy we have here in QLD, where 2% of the cost of public buildings is spent on artworks. We like that policy! I have had a fairly nice, easy introduction into this world, with this first commission being part of a series of “integrated showcases” (architect speak for a display case built into the wall!) throughout the fancy new Southbank Institute of Technology complex . But the whole process has given me a great insight into what else is possible in this area, and I’d love to get into something a little juicier next time.

I was looking forward to having the whole thing done and dusted on Friday. But after 5 hours of installing (most of which involved sitting around waiting on a plastic covered chair wearing a hard hat in a half-finished library with a freezing wind blowing a gale through an unfinished doorway) a little oversight in the cleaning of the roof of the showcase was discovered…as the last piece of glass was being fitted, as we all had one foot out the door ready to go to the pub, down came a shower of sawdust all over my work. Not a good look! So back I go tomorrow to take it all out, wait for it to be cleaned properly and all the glass to be re-installed, and put it back in again! But I didn’t really mind. I had such a fun day sitting in there just listening to the hilarious banter between all the tradies. What a bunch of sweet lovely hilarious characters they were. I kept getting Village People songs stuck in my head! And watching their reaction to my work was an added bonus - these big macho fellas going all wide-eyed at my fragile little pieces, working so softly and carefully around them!
So, almost done and dusted....and not a minute too soon i tell ya.

(personally I think this would make for a more interesting art work....)