This blog was to be a Favourite From My Bookshelf. It soon turned out to be more than that. The next book on the shelf was titled Dioramas-A Visual History of The Phillipines. The book was produced by the Ayala Museum in 1978 and as I flicked looking for an image to share, I realised it wasn’t difficult because I loved them all.
But there in the back of mind was an article had been reading recently on the future of museums in the digital age. Then I realised maybe dioramas will become a thing of the past. Damn. I love dioramas, they make me want to be an artist.
This picture was from my trip to New York at the Museum of Natural History. This man was propped on a stool drawing coyotes. I imagined me propped inside the case painting the background. I used to imagine when I was a little girl and my dad would take me to the museum in College Street Sydney, that I would have to lay on my tummy to paint inside the small windows before they put in the glass. It wasn’t just the painting either, it was the scumbling over tufty grasses and sculpting hills and caves and little peoples from all over the world.
I decided rather than share more from the history of the Phillipines, some of the photos I took on that trip to NYC.
“Creativity is often just mistakes.” Grayson Perry
I nicked into Wollongong library just to return a few CDs. I wasn’t expecting Grayson Perry to emit sonic rays of “Come and Get Me” from the pyramid of new releases. But he did. The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman.
Meanwhile this morning Katharine PhotoBooth had me commenting about badly drawn bears in dioramas. Somehow my blogging, book and art-world had been stirred and dished up in the lumpy form of Alan Measles.
I wasn’t going to let my brain be porridge today. I was going to be switched on, plan, make lists but it soon became bergoo (this was my Dad’s term for porridge -I have no idea if bergoo is a real term, spell check doesn’t seem to think so ). I was the first person in library-land to borrow the book and I had to start reading. Grayson Perry had ridden his way into my life lately in the most amazing way.
Alan Measles was Perry’s bear. Inspired by the collection of the British Museum, Alan Measles lives through Grayson Perry. Once again the organisational side of me slid from the burner. I thought maybe by stirring the porridge in my head a little longer it would form some solid mass, slowly percolating and becoming cohesive. The ingredients are Alan Measles, Dioramas, New Guinea Masks and Bears but something is missing, that dash of brown sugar that will make it interesting, sweet, digestible. Maybe it’s Bungendore.
This photo and Alan Measles is from the book Grayson Perry The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman
Despite the rain I was determined to clear paintings out of the storage shed. The crud at the bottom of the roller door was an indication of what lay inside. Moving so often combined with a tad of forgetfulness (or youthful loss of brain cells) has it’s advantages, you forget what you paint. My idea was to take as many paintings as possible in the wagon, take them off the stretchers and be ruthless as possible and roll the rest. I grabbed a pile of small ones first, about a dozen. Our painting teacher said it was a ratio of about 1 in 10 to get a decent painting. Damn! I’d forgotten about that one. In amongst that dozen there was a jewel, a small 10 x 10 canvas, I tried to place where I was at when I painted it.
I packed the rest, as many as I could without delving too far back in the storage unit where there was obviously signs of scurrying. Driving home about half an hour away gave me time to mull it over. Colours are always a way of me connecting to a place. Then it came to me, it was Bungendore – the Bungendore Bears, I loved these works. I especially loved the photos. I remember being mittened-up sketching in the car with Anne-Marie outside the Bungendore Motel – we were pondering the possibility of it being a hot bed of sexual encounters for nearby Canberran politicians during the day. The price was right, the location far enough away. Painted in bright yellow $60 a night on the blue bin wheeled out on the kerb.
So after all that agonising about what to keep and how to cull, I ended up with more to work with, an idea unfinished, another excuse to travel and paint.