Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Carriageworks & AGNSW

 Over the weekend my husband and I visited the Eveleigh Markets in Darlington (which of course included indulgence in the yummiest cinnamon scroll on the planet), and whilst there we explored Song Dong's exhibition at the Carriageworks. Waste Not premiered in Beijing in 2005 and has since shown at MoMA in New York and the Barbican in London.
If you know me, you know that I have a love affair with installation, especially this type of pattern arranging with found objects (Sarah Sze was the first artist I stumbled across who worked this way...and I have been smitten ever since). The work was conceived following the death of the artists father and displays more than 10,000 everyday items collected by the artists mother representing her process of mourning and remembrance. But it also  raises interesting discussion about Chinese culture and consumerism, sustainability, resourcefulness and obsession with material possessions. The historical background described in the artists statement gave insight into the older generation in China- who began storing and saving anything and everything during times of hardship and economic instability, and who continued to hoard belongings even in times of prosperity because it had become part of their identity and cultural norm. It was no longer about preserving the useful, but preserving the past. This  arguably needless collecting contrasts with the younger generations who have embraced all things instant, replaceable and disposable.

Then we made our way over to the AGNSW for the Dobell Prize for Drawing. Always a treat.
I was quite taken by John Fitzgibbons "Lay down your weary tune" , Katherine Hattams "Heideggers Hut" and  Ulrich Stalph's "Ben Boyd National Park", as well as Wendy Loeflers stunning piece  "Antartica #28.

My husband particularly liked Graham Fransellas "Figure and Bell"
Two exhibitions I'd highly recommend!!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Creative resolution

I often go weeks, even months, without going into my studio. I mean, spending time painting and drawing in the studio. Of course there's foraging around and digging for things and filing things. I do step in there...but unfortunately the space gets used less for art and more for 'office' these days. (Although I must say it's an incredibly arty feeling office what with the easel and paint splattered floor and massive desk covered in art supplies....)

But for the most part I'm not making art.

And thats disappointing, to say the least.

I take comfort in the fact that I am doing other good things- playing with my kids, taking them to swimming lessons, gardening, preaching, writing....but no painting. I often feel like I've neglected the calling to live and pursue an artistic life. To live a creative life.  And I feel a bit starved.

But I was reminded recently (in an article by a clown. True story.) of the value of asking yourself each week 'how have I been creative this week?' and acknowledging all the ways that your creativity manifests itself- from inventive meals to imaginative games with the kids to a string of beautiful words. I was also reminded of the value of challenging yourself to find more ways to express that creativity rather than just doing what you've always done.

Of course I knew that I was creating and making and imagining in other parts of my life and probably even daily....
but there is something empowering about naming the thing. About pointing it out. 

I was uplifted and encouraged to think that I haven't completely abandoned or lost creative expression in my world and can even look for ways to include it every day- even if I can't spend hours in the studio,  and even if it doesn't involve a paintbrush. What have I already done today? And what can I do for 5mins today?? 

So this year- regardless of how many paintings I finish, how many exhibitions I present or how many hours I do or don't get in the studio- I will make sure I don't starve, 
but will look for, acknowledge, and recognise the creativity in every week. In every day.

How can you continue to feed your creative spirit this week? Today?

Monday, March 19, 2012

It's exhibition time again!

True. It's another exhibition. So heres the media release info for y'all!

'A collection:2006-2012' will be opening at the Jo Felk Gallery, March 28th, 7:30pm. This exhibition will display a selection of past works from the 'Abundant', 'Mindmap' and 'Year of the Home' series, with the new addition of the first release of 3 LIMITED EDITION prints. These will be tiered pricing, so best to get in on the first release if you are interested!
Joanna is a local artist who has exhibited in several solo and group shows including charity events in the region. Her works can be found in private collections across Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the UK and has appeared in galleries in Newcastle, Sydney, Port Macquarie and even at Parliament House in Canberra. 

The Abundant series is a celebration of faith and significant places and presents a visual narrative for the metaphor ‘to dwell in high places’. The artist explores the concept of lifes ‘high points’ and ‘mountaintop experiences’ and our desire to stay in that space. The works in this series present a decidedly optimistic view of the world and could be described as almost sickeningly happy. Though the works are clearly joyful and playful, they are not without serious statement. Each piece appeals to us and urges us to live at a higher level, acknowledging and mximising moments of enlightenment and elation. Simple line work and exuberant colour typify these works that Joanna describes as expressionistic landscapes. The work is characterised by the repetition of cell-like shapes, scattered over the images like communities of people, clumps of trees, and beds of flowers, resulting in a highly patterned aesthetic.

The mindmap series includes paintings and works on paper that Joanna describes as a ‘transcendental view’- presenting the aerial and microscopic view simultaneously. She  spent much time studying rockpools, the movement of water through them and the life forms in them around Caves Beach, Bar Beach and Newcastle Beach and compares the movement of rockpools and the lines of water flow to the  process of mindmapping.
The Year of the Home series is much more illustrative than her other work and includes a collection of oil pastel and graphite miniatures. It is inspired by the artists convictions about homelife and family. The pieces incorporate what the artist calls ‘home iconography’ and explores ways of ‘doing life’- from the insanity of chasing toddlers to the joy and peace found in faith. The village views are crowded and chaotic yet retain a certain simplicity mixing symbols of various lifestyles- from caravans to igloos- with the things of everyday life- teacups and telephones, lawnmowers and cutlery. Each work presents the simultaneous complexity and simplicity of family life and the truth that, perhaps, we all need to return to the un-ornamented yet essential ‘stuff’ that is home.

Joanna's 'GOOD ART: ART FOR GOOD' cards will also be available, with all profits helping to provide life changing surgery for women in Nepal suffering uterine prolapse.
  • The prints are a limited edition of 100.  Prices increase based on a tiered pricing system as the edition sells out. The release of the first 20 of this edition will be at a set price per 11x14 inch print, but the price will rise after each release is sold and continue to rise as the edition nears it’s end (ie. prints 21-69, prints 70-90, and prints 91-100). Larger prints are also available.
  • A portion of sales of original works will be donated to the ADRA Australia ‘East Africa Drought Fund’.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

sketchbook wednesday

I recently returned from a trip to Malawi and Kenya. Whilst I had hoped to sketch everyday, I really only managed a spot of sketching here and there... some ways I wish I had done more, but at the same time I realise that it was more important for me to be in the moment rather than stuck in my sketchbook.

 Besides, after just a short time of sketching I filled so many pages in my sketchbook that  if I sketched everyday I think I would have easily filled four or five sketchbooks! 

 So I took lots of photos, and lots of journaling-so much writing!!!- making sure I put in loads of details about the scenery, the smell, the weather, the colours, the feel of the place and the people.

 Just wanted to share some pages from my journal-  they are all  very quick location sketches, graphite....very rough, but enough to get down an idea....

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

sketchbook wednesday

So. I finished it. That monster project that seemed like such a good idea at the time.

The first problem was that it to the last minute. Kind of silly when I had probably 3-4 months to complete it.
The second problem was expectation and comparison. I mean...have you seen some of the photos and videos floating around of other peoples sketchbooks!?? Books that are so complete and cohesive, with such incredible workmanship, books that have been rebound with amazing covers and heavy weight paper, painted in, laboured over, and finished not like a sketchbook, but like a published illustrated anthology of everything that is amazing. [sigh]

I tried to plan something like that...but (other than running out of time) it wasn't  something that came easily. I guess to me a sketchbook is a natural organic flow of mistakes and ideas and whatever comes out. Accident ridden. Draft style.....but thats a little bit scary too because then everyone sees all the 'not so good' bits, and the unfinished bits, and the ideas that never really should have been.

oh man. It seems I had made it way more complicated than I wanted it to be. So with very little time left to deadline I jumped in with an 'it is what it is' mantra. I did raw sketches. Some turned out like illustrations. Some are cheesy. Some I really like.

So now it's done. My biggest regret/frustration was not bothering to rebind it with better quality paper. I would have reaaalllly liked to use lots more ink and watercolour for washes and bleeds and even some block colour backgrounds... but the thin paper in the sketchbook wouldn't hold up to it. (I tried a teensy bit of colour on one page and the paper rippled to billy-o. gah!! ) I sure did enjoy exploring some different ways of working (such as using reference photos, for example) and a chance to draw in a different style to the work in my portfolio from the last few years.

The theme I had originally chosen was "Treehouse" which allowed me to simply record and explore all things boyish and childhood and summer time and play. I stopped and watched my boys. I went through holiday photos. I considered their favourite activities.

Enough excuses. The process certainly has given me lots of ideas, inspiration and motivation to actually experiment some more. So in that sense, project success. (and posted on monday. what a relief!)

Friday, January 27, 2012

It's sketchbook wednesday....on friday. Thanks for grace!

 pencil drawing. my boy running down the dunes on a windy day. over and over and over. such fun! (wow. drawing sand dunes is super hard).
 charcoal drawing. kite flying with the littlest one. I quite like charcoal for large scale drawing but found using it in on this teeny tiny page very challenging and wasn't too happy with the result... but I got sick of it and gave up! ha!
this is a pencil drawing adapted from one of my favourite photos of my son. I usually hate working from photos (because the process is so lifeless and restrictive and the result is often flat) but thought I'd give it a go....for something different. I actually don't mind the adaptation and it sure is a quick way to work!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

sketchbook wednesday

I've been really bad at keeping up with posting a page or two from my sketchbook every wednesday, but I'm am going to work on that!!  So here's a few pages from my summer holiday sketchbook....that really started as sketches but are becoming more and more illustrative. Ha. It's fun playing around with different things. 

So the process was to start with rough gestural sketches, with only a B pencil(so it's nice and light) then work over them refining and erasing (I never use an eraser!!)  with 4B, 5B and 8 B to add just a teeny about of tonal highlights but mainly good sharp edges and outlines....and then getting a clean and tidy drawing at the end.
I usually prefer a much more loose and sketchy style and I fear that these are becoming a little too 'cartoony'....but hey, it's a sketchbook...the place where you experiment and push and pull your drawing  and style and processes in all sorts of direction without the pressure of what is right, wrong, better or just is what it is.

 I love that about a sketchbook. It doesn't judge me.

Also, I guess this more illustrative approach was perhaps the best expressions of the subject-  a record of a summer of childhood memories.

Monday, December 12, 2011

My day with Picasso.

For all Australians this is a rare and enriching opportunity' Harold Mitchell AC (Chairman, Art Exhibitions Australia)

'This is the great Picasso show to which we have often aspired but not yet achieved in Australia. Make the most of it because we will never have such a show again' (Edmund Capon, Director AGNSW)
“The exhibition is an excellent study of the artists influences, his practices and processes and will give visitors a greater understanding of the man, modern art and what it means to live a creative life’. The Hon Simon Crean MP (Federal Minister for the Arts).

I have to agree with all of the above.  The exhibition is astounding and moving.  And I really did feel privileged to be able to see it. Whilst I first learnt about Picasso back in school and had looked at his work and his impact on modern art history and practice whilst at college I had never become a real fan, and was perhaps naieve in my understanding of his significance. But upon reading an incredibly in-depth biography (by Patrick O'Brian) over the last few months I was immediately struck by a person completely set apart- a person who was truly prolific from childhood.  It seeped out of him at every moment. He pushed boundaries. He was courageous and confident and completely independent of trends. So whilst walking through this exhibition after immersing myself in his work and life, I was totally inspired- not necessarily by his particular style, but by his truly creative life.
I walked away completely challenged to make no more excuses.
This exhibition is like getting a sneak peak into the soul of the man. Not only does it span his entire career, more than 70 years of artmaking, but these are pieces that were kept in Picassos own private collection until his death. These are 'Picasso's Picassos.' (Interestingly, these works were gifted to the French state by his family after he died in lieu of taxes.) So whilst Picasso is famous for saying that every painting is like a page from his diary, you can't help but feel that this is most true of these works which the artist had held onto for himself for so long.

Walking through 10 rooms of drawings, etchings, paintings and sculptures you can’t help but wonder about the total value- a figure not revealed to the public for security reasons. But when the ‘Nu au Plateau de Sculpteur’ was sold last year at Christies for $106.5m (yes, million) and other works have fetched upwards of $50million since 1989, it is perhaps a little overwhelming to see over 150 Picassos in one place.(.....shiiiivers!!! it really is a privelege to get up close to this stuff!!). The works were transported in individual crates, specially lined with foam and foil which can regulate internal temperatures for up to 5 days (to prevent the paint from chipping, cracking or fading). The works are also protected by special glass that filters out UV light and the wing of the AGNSW that houses the exhibition has been refurbished low UV lights and wall linings to carry the weight of the heavier works.

As mentioned earlier, in the lead up to this exhibition I have been reading a biography to try to get into the headspace to make the most of the opportunity and truly appreciate the man and his work. And what an intriguing character! He was constantly drawing on walls, paper, pavements and was dreadful at school. He couldn't spell or do math to save himself and  was regularly found in his own world, staring out of windows. His father sent him to art school years before the appropriate enrolment age and he stunned professors by completing the practical entry examinations in only a fraction of the time usually taken by most students and with incredible proficiency. He lived in absolute poverty for much of his early life and career, and so his pre-occupation with painting the homeless, the destitute and the poor and the lonely is, like all of his work, a self portrait of sorts. Despite his genius, he always identified himself with the down and outs and those who lived on the fringe.
Reading about his processes and how he preferred to paint late into the night by lamplight was fascinating! Stories about his earliest collectors and exhibitions and outbursts in cafes are entertaining. And then there's the legend about the time he and one of his friends determined to live in a cave in the woods to each complete a masterpiece only to have the paintings destroyed in a storm! Oh, and of course, that whole thing about having a pet chimpanzee in his Parisian apartment....

Room 7 covers 1940-1951, World War II to Korea. While the Nazis invaded and occupied Paris, Picasso continued to work and if you spend long enough in this room you will eventually be reduced to tears. Whether you like the works or not, the strength of emotion and  the tension between the brutality and vulnerability he witnessed is tangible and moving. Even the walls in this room are painted a deep dark grey in contrast to the white walls in all the other rooms- creating an incredible sense of reverence in this one part of the exhibition. Here is a man saying clearly what words cannot.
can you spot the beautiful new addition to my collection? 

For those of you who aren’t Picasso fans or know little about the man and his work, take the time to read the free catalogue brochure as you walk through to get the most out of the exhibition. My husband and I stopped in each room to read the info about the next one before entering it and found the experience and journey so much more enriching- it also meant we were both on the same page. And whoever you are with, take a moment to pick a favourite from each room and discuss it- makes the whole thing more fun, and it’s interesting to see the work through someone elses eyes as well....  although, you’ll be hard pressed to choose a favourite from the whole exhibition.

Make sure you check out all the  incredible photography and the short film of Picasso painting on glass ( it's not in the main exhibition area but set up beside 19th Century European gallery- n your right as you come in the main entrance)
Also, be sure to check out the incredible list of related events to maximise your experience- it's phenomenal what has been planned! Musical performances, films, workshops, lectures, interactive character tours, spanish dancing, and of course, kids programs too!
And you can download a bunch of podcasts here to get further insight into some of the pieces on display.

I’m already planning a return visit to the gallery before the exhibition closes on 25 March 2012.

Read a great piece about the exhibition here, about the security and transport logistics here, about the lighting requirements here,  insights from a former mistress Francoise Gilot here, and a little more about the exhibition here

Saturday, November 26, 2011


I just finished the largest painting I have ever done. oh yes. It was a monster. A beautiful big phthalo turquoise and prussian blue beast of a painting. 

 So 2.47mx 1.85m, way too many late nights, and more than 50hrs later....this is roughly how the story goes... (in just a snapshot...)

This was a commissioned work and as such there was constant communication with the client-  initial meetings and sharing sketches, colour consultations and in-home conferencing to get measurements. Then once the painting began photos were sent at every stage, and input from the client sought to ensure that the work was exactly what they were after. It was a great experience and it was incredibly rewarding to get such positive feedback throughout the whole process and see a client so exuberantly happy with their piece. So now it hangs, very well loved, in it's new home.