RMIT grad show 2019

glowing pink sphere

My friend David graduated from RMIT Visual Arts (Sculpture) recently. The RMIT graduate show was amazing, a rabbit warren of rooms in three buildings on Swanston Street. My main criticism was that instead of having labels on the work, or even numbers, there are maps of the various rooms and spaces. This makes it really hard to work out whose work you are looking at. (There’s nothing to stop students making their own labels though!)

Highlights for me were some of sculptural pieces (in particular the orange spectacular by Fiz) and some hanging rice paper works by Yanqi Zhao. I also loved a glowing red/pink sphere but unfortunately could not find the artist’s name.

The exhibition was well worth another look but unfortunately it closes on November 27. Well done, RMIT graduates!

Art opening shoes — 1 of 7

When I was at the White on White opening  I remembered an idea I’d had before when at exhibition openings — photographing a series of people’s shoes. The idea of portraits of people’s shoes interests me, and it’s interesting how many people feel braver in wearing colourful/wacky accessories like earrings or shoes than in their clothing. I think the photos give a good sense of the event as well…

Presenting the first installment of a series:

White on White: celebrating 20 years of the Fiona Myer Award at Victoria University, 18 November 2019.

White on White

Last night I attended an exhibition opening held by Victoria University, my old art school. Fiona Myer has been the patron of VU’s Visual Arts course for the past 20 years, and every graduate show she awards art prizes (one for a travel proposal) for a couple of lucky students.

For White on White, eight previous award winners were invited to submit work on the concept of ‘white’ and the interpretations were varied and interesting. It was also lovely to catch up with some former fellow students and lecturers.

My favourite piece is by En-En See, called Love Letters. At first I wasn’t sure if it was an artwork, because it is made up of a number of hand cut vinyl flowers, scattered seemingly randomly, on the floor. It wasn’t taped or roped off and there weren’t any signs saying ‘do not touch’, so I assumed it was part of a decorative install. People walked on them and some of them got crumpled and folded over, just like real flowers would. En-En explained that the artwork was a response to a story about a white flower that grows in halves – one half grows near the sea, the other in the mountains, and together they form one perfect bloom (based on the legend of Nakapau). I’m a big fan of ephemeral art and this was a beautiful piece. I loved the way it wasn’t precious and roped off, like most art work, and was in fact more like street art, which slowly deteriorates in the weather, or gets peeled off or covered or tagged, evolving over time.

The exhibition is at White Story House, 48 Kelso Street, Cremorne for two days only, and closes 20 November 2019 (10 am – 4 pm).

colour bomb! update

I did it!

Thanks to everyone who supported by donating to my fundraising campaign, my fellow artists who inspired and helped me, Tracey and Gasworks, and my friends who encouraged me.

finally, a solo show

I’m excited to announce my first solo exhibition! Colour Bomb! will open on November 20. I think I’m almost ready, but we’ll see how the last 10 days go. I’ve done almost all the paintings and pieces, and I’m framing them at the moment (and working on a special 3D piece).

Here are some samples to whet your appetite…

Colour Bomb! opens on Tuesday 20 November from 6pm at ARB Gallery, Gasworks Arts Park, 21 Graham Street, Albert Park. I’d love it if you could come and celebrate with me!

If you can’t make opening night, the show runs until December 9. I’ll be sitting the gallery on the weekends of 24/25 November, 1/2 and 8/9 December from 12 until 4pm. Hope to see you there 🙂

p.s. I also have a favour to ask… I’ve set up a crowd funder to help cover the gallery hire and costs of the exhibition. If you’d like to support an emerging artist, go to http://www.pozible.com/project/first-solo-show

Van Gogh and the seasons

tree trunks and dandelionsI think of Van Gogh primarily as a colourist, although his vivid colourful paintings were mostly painted in the last couple of years of his art career. His detailed descriptions of nature and his paintings can be found in his letters to Theo, his brother. Here he describes a landscape he painted at Arles in 1888:

A meadow full of very yellow buttercups, a ditch with iris plants with green leaves, with purple flowers, the town in the background, some grey willow trees — a strip of blue sky.
If they don’t mow the meadow I’d like to do this study again, because the subject matter was really beautiful…A little town surrounded by countryside entirely covered in yellow and purple flowers. That would really be a Japanese dream, you know.

And a beach at Saintes-Maries-de-la-mer:

I took a walk along the seashore one night, on the deserted beach. It wasn’t cheerful, but not sad either, it was — beautiful.

The sky, a deep blue, was flecked with clouds of a deeper blue than primary blue, an intense cobalt, and with others that were a lighter blue — like the blue whiteness of milky ways. Against the blue background stars twinkled, bright, greenish, white, light pink — brighter, more glittering, more like precious stones than at home — even in Paris. So it seems fair to talk about opals, emeralds, lapis, rubies, sapphires. The sea a very deep ultramarine — the beach a mauvish and pale reddish shade, it seemed to me — with bushes.

At Arles he painted the same subjects over and over — wheat fields, fruit trees, olive trees, flowers, cypresses. One of my favourite paintings from the show is an olive grove. The sky is a delightful pale green with orange, yellow and blue accents, and the ground lavender blue, orange, green and pale brown.

olive grove with 2 olive pickersIt’s hard to imagine how revolutionary these paintings were at the time. They influenced many painters including Matisse and the Fauves. His vision was unique and the bold and surprising way he used colour is still amazing.

Van Gogh and the seasons is at the NGV Melbourne until July 9.

Art show

2_art_show_sign4A couple of weeks ago, I approached a local real estate agent about some empty shops in my local area. I’d been thinking they would be great for a pop-up art show. I was thrilled when he agreed to let me use the space for a reduced rent.

I called my artist friends and said ‘We’re having a show! in Yarraville!!’ One friend immediately asked ‘What’s the theme?’ to which I replied ‘We’re not from the VCA*! We don’t need a theme! We’re having a show! Bring your work!!

The show is opening on Friday night, and about one third of the work is at the space. Now comes the challenge of curating – deciding which works to put together in which rooms. The space is large and there are 18 artists involved, most of whom I met while studying Visual Art at Victoria University. It’s difficult to get a show when you’re an emerging (unknown) artist, so this is a great opportunity to show our work. It’s so exciting!

Lo-fi: new art collective is at 130 Gamon Street, Yarraville from 1–4 August, opening 6pm on Friday 1 August. Everyone is welcome to come and have a glass of wine and celebrate with us at the opening!

*VCA = Victorian College of the Arts

The needle is used to repair the damage – Louise Bourgeois

I researched Louise Bourgeois for an assignment a while back, but I didn’t particularly like her work. But when I recently saw her work in the flesh at Heide Museum of Modern Art, I was impressed and moved.

Her large sculpture Spider (1997) – a huge metal spider enclosing a cage containing a chair, pieces of tapestry, an old fashioned perfume bottle, darning needles and hatpins, small bones, and a cameo, which seemed like personal objects from her past – lurked in the gloom, resonating with psychological unease. The more I looked at it, the more details I noticed. It’s like a strange museum exhibit of Bourgeois’s traumatic childhood.
Louise Bourgeois, Spider, 1997

Every day you have to abandon your past or accept it, and then, if you cannot accept it, you become a sculptor. L. Bourgeois

The headless and partially limbless torsos, made of bandages, fabric and wood, one with a knife instead of a head, and the headless, deformed couple apparently having sex, were a disturbing embodiment of dysfunction, desire, fear and sexuality. I also found the black female figure hanging upside down like a carcass quite confronting.
L_Bourgeois_Knife_figure
L_Bourgeois_Couple-IV

Blue Days (1996) – a collection of Bourgeois’ dresses and shirts, on stuffed headless torsos like dressmakers forms, hanging on hooks on metal rods – felt merely nostalgic and ‘lighter’ than some of the other work. A welcome respite from the psychological darkness.
L_Bourgeois_Blue_Days

Cinq is five stuffed fabric heads hanging from the same hook. It was suggested that they might represent Bourgeois’s family. I liked the simplicity and tenderness of this work.
L_Bourgeois_Cinq

There was also a collection of lithographs of drawings and text. I liked the phrase ‘To unravel a torment you must begin somewhere’. The word unravel continues the sewing metaphor which pervades the work.

When I was growing up all the women in my house were using needles. I’ve always had a fascination with…the magic power of the needle. The needle is used to repair the damage.
L. Bourgeois, 1992

In a way I suppose Bourgeois was repairing the damage of her early trauma, using her needle, for most of her life.
L_Bourgeois_I am afraid

Action / Abstraction – Wangaratta Art Gallery

I recently visited Action/Abstraction. It was inspiring. If you like abstract painting I highly recommend seeing this exhibition. Five painters are represented: Jo Davenport, Sally Gabori, Todd Hunter, Ildiko Kovacs, and Aida Tomescu. Let’s start with Aida Tomescu, a painter I’m growing to love more and more. Tomescu layers paint, scrapes back, drips and splatters, draws into the work, and adds more layers. Her paintings have a strong physical presence and are bold, complex, and beautiful.

aida tomescu_crossgrain_12
Tomescu was a finalist in the Wynne Prize 2012 with Crossgrain.
What I wanted to get to was a unified presence, full and ordered with a light and clarity of its own.
Intensively worked, scraped back repeatedly, and reconsidered, Crossgrain is not a painting about texture. Nor is the image trying to create a special illusion of a representative world – though if you want to think in terms of earth, air, the soft steps of the sky, it is all of those things.
I think of Crossgrain more as a space where mood, movement, vibration, the linkages of marks across the surface and their special behaviour form a particular experience.

(from her artist statement)

The exhibition runs until 24 March.

Aida Tomescu, Aspen, 2010Aida Tomescu, Aspen, 2010

Aida Tomescu, Tethys II, 2010Aida Tomescu, Tethys II, 2010

I thought I was where I wasn’t

Untitled, Shannon SmileyToday I visited I thought I was where I wasn’t at C3 gallery at Abbotsford Convent – paintings by Shannon Smiley and pen and ink drawings by Helen Nodding. Shannon’s paintings are of fragments and forgotten corners of vegetation in the urban landscape that demonstrate the power of nature to reclaim our city environment. I find his paintings inspiring and powerful.

Helen’s meticulous pen and ink drawings are detailed examinations of everyday scenes – tree branches reflected in a ditch or a weed breaking through a footpath – beautifully recorded.