Grayson Perry Sailing out of the Dodgy Art Pool

GP Opera House 2015Sometimes our very human desire for meaning can get in the way of having a good experience of the world” Grayson Perry.

Detail You are Here pot

Detail You are Here pot

Not much scares an Essex transvestite potter except the “dodgy art pool”.

I spent the day visiting a great exhibition Grayson Perry: My Pretty Little Art Career at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney. I had a marvellous lunch atop the MCA, overlooking the Opera House where Perry would give a talk later in the day on How To Be an Artist Just Like Me. I think as an artist you tend to look for talks, trawl art magazines and even attend art workshops in the hope that you understand the artist better and even anticipate that a little bit of magic will rub off.

GP_MCA2015

The greatest piece of advice came from Perry, who had fearlessly donned flamboyant orange tights, pink perilous platforms and a shimmery blue nappy-like costume, that he was frightened of ending up in a craft store.  We all are familiar with the type of store, coloured glass platters, decorator cushions, crafty wood items and pottery. His advice to sail out of that world, be brave and head for open waters to explore the world beyond. Take risks, make mistakes. After seeing the work in this mammoth exhibition I don’t think there was ever a danger of Perry being moored on the fatal shore of the dodgy art pool.

 

The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman

The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman

Prep sketches for the Tomb

Prep sketches for the Tomb

Shrine to Alan Measles 2007

Shrine to Alan Measles 2007

Sketches for The Upper Class at Bay tapestry

Sketches for The Upper Class at Bay tapestry

 

 

 

 

Velasquez and I Cook Eggs

IMG_3214Inspiration comes in packages of all shapes, sizes and compositions.  Recently I was gobsmacked by Velasquez Old Woman Cooking Eggs. There was a dynamism in the figures and objects and how they related to each other both in colour and shape.  As a result a new series of small works in gouache provided impetus for bigger and better things.  The serendipity of reading John Olsen’s biography whilst working on the series, also laid another level.

The egg, a symbol of hope and regeneration that he saw in Velasquez, carried into his work and as a result into mine. I could see a jelly-fish-like symbol in the slithery par-cooked egg whites that could transfer into compositions for my boatshed works.

 

Velasquez: Old Woman Cooking Eggs.

Velasquez: Old Woman Cooking Eggs.

IMG_3201IMG_3213 IMG_3210

Country vs Western

SH Ervin: Country and Western

SH Ervin: Country and Western

With an exhibition titled Country and Western, I had expected more grit, more dust and more western instead I got colour and country.  The SH Ervin rarely disappoints when it comes to curation and quality of exhibitions and this collection of works were great. In this case the Country refers to the indigenous view of landscape, and Western the non-indigenous. The mix and meandering of cultural pull from a star-studded line-up is more than just names. The result is a thick blanket of landscape to wrap yourself in, sometimes prickly, sometimes light and comfortable, sometimes rich and heavy.

From Ronnie Tjampitjinpa Kintore NT to Gertie Huddleston in the Gulf to John Olsen at Lake Eyre

From Ronnie Tjampitjinpa Kintore NT to Gertie Huddleston in the Gulf to John Olsen at Lake Eyre

Gavin Wilson’s curation is insightful and delivers more than just a collection of landscape, it feels right, evenly weighted and nourishing.  He has impressed me before with his curation of fire-inspired art, Fireworks. At the moment I am reading John Olsen’s biography by Darleen Bungey so the Olsen work felt like a friend and his Lake Eyre work seemed to feel like a link between country and western somehow.

 

The artists are way too many to list but include Tracey Moffat, Emily Kame Kngwarreye, John Peart, Elisabeth Cummings, Rover Thomas, John R Walker, Ken Whisson, John Wolsley, Euan MacLeod, Ricky Maynard, Noel McKenna, Paddy Bedford. Check them out here

 

 

IMG_3118

 

 

J R Walker and Emily.

J R Walker and Emily.

People by the Sculpture by the Sea 2015

Dogs 20151Each year Sculpture by the Sea at Bondi Beach gets a little more crowded. The works hold different people for different reasons. A couple of years back there seemed to be an abundance of animal themed works, another year environmental, lots of big red things, and this year had a distinct people focus. After reviewing an abundance of photos from two trips this year,  more shots for my dogs of Bondi collection and various hit and miss snaps, the ones I really like are the people interacting with the works and even better the people oblivious to the monumental pieces around them.

 

P1050217The walk from Tamarama to Bondi is spectacular, a backdrop of sea and rock. This year two pods of dolphins were launching themselves into the air and spinning on show whilst the crowd moved around the edge. I took a lot of sculptureless shots this year once again.

Here’s a clip of this years winner, Jorg Pickat.

 

Stroll 2015P1050283SurfersP1050329

 

 

 

Light, Space, Time and a Wombat Hole

Turrell Skyspace 5

Sometimes the order of exhibitions matter. Your head is in a space, ready for the onslaught. This time there was no plan as to who would be first.

Ann Thomson (detail)

Ann Thomson (detail)

IMG_2835

Ann Thomson’s exhibition Freehand was even higher than the expectations. Her works are full, yet light. Marks, space and colour give each other time. There is a lustfulness in the way she paints -a love of the space she creates by the marks with her body. It is not painting, it is not composing, it is absorption.

IMG_2831

Turrell Skyspace 4Turrell Skyspace 6

The nearby James Turrell Retrospective at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra had a naked art night (no, I didn’t like the thought of bending over to put on the booties). The participants absorbed the light into their flesh. The Turrell show was a world away from paint using space, light and dark.

The show made me envious, why do I need a studio full of brushes and paint? A day earlier I was inspired by Ann Thomson’s work, it had made me want to paint again but the stripped down use of light as a material seemed to make sense. Marks seemed inconsequential.

IMG_2841

In between there were glimpses of Sidney Nolan, the Riverbend series at the Drill Hall ANU,  an assortment at the Canberra Museum and Gallery and the Kelly series at the NGA. Somehow his works still resonated. There was the myth of place, I wasn’t in the desert creating huge skyspaces and I wasn’t in a studio surrounded by dripping paintings on white walls. I am caught in time, like Ned painted into a story of what my life has become, headfirst down a wombat hole.

Policeman in a wombat hole 1946 Sidney Nolan

Policeman in a wombat hole 1946 Sidney Nolan

3 De Koonings, Olsen and Paella at the Beach

Happy Holidays, may your stockings bulge with art.

Happy Holidays, may your stockings bulge with art.

“…a surrealist scene of saffron coloured chickens…” John Olsen

Olsen's Culinaria Cuisine of the Sun

Olsen’s Culinaria Cuisine of the Sun

Christmas arrived early for me this year in three parcel post satchels. Not exactly Santa down the chute but those puffy square bags make me squeal like a little girl at Xmas. The benefits of being old is that I don’t have to wait for the big day to arrive.

IMG_2619

The first parcel was the biggest De Kooning book I’ve ever seen – the Malvern star of art books. Ensconced in a hard slip case and full of perfect coloured reproductions of his best.

FullSizeRender(1)

The second satchel held two De Kooning second hand treasures, one cloth bound with the library card still in slipped in the back pocket time-travelled from the sixties. The other professing to be the first De Kooning publication.

De Kooning Smith College Museum of Art 1965.

De Kooning Smith College Museum of Art 1965.

Willem De Kooning by Thomas Hess 1959.

Willem De Kooning by Thomas Hess 1959.

Borrowed by Shelley Rose on Feb 10 1966.

Borrowed by Shelley Rose on Feb 10 1966.

The third satchel held Culinaria by John Olsen. Cuisine of the Sun. This book was to be our Christmas dinner – drawing, painting and cooking in the sun – sand, saffron, cadmiums, paprika, burnt orange and paella.

The Hamptons 1953

The Hamptons 1953

Two great artists, De Kooning from the northern hemisphere where he spent Christmas in the Hamptons, and Olsen in the southern hemisphere comparing Watsons Bay to an Iberian fishing village, seem very relevant to this years sunny seafood xmas by the beach…with books.

The World Wide Scribble Pad


The One that started it all….

OK Enough is enough!  It’s been too long since my last post. I’ve had a few changes lately which has meant pulling out some old paintings, organising art stuff and documents etc. The tacky unglamorous side of art.  It was then that I realised what the original purpose of this blog was  – someone wanted to buy a painting, I had no website and my storage system was pretty much non-existent.

So I began the laborious task of putting each painting up, making notes on series but then I got a little excited.  Instead of scribbling notes about exhibitions in my sketchbooks, I began blogging. It was a huge worldwide scribble pad that visitors could like.

I helped friends set up their blogs, began making art quizzes and photographing.  In the sorting I have come across paintings I had forgotten and sketches that brought back memories of places and people.

Rocks Day 65- memories of places...

Rocks Day 65- memories of places…

I haven’t blogged for a while, my life has taken a turn recently. I miss blogging, I miss painting and yesterday I could feel the desperate need for drawing returning. I don’t know if that means I am getting better or trying to fill a need. Either way – charcoal and gouache is a good remedy and a nice way to scribble on my world-wide sketchbook.

 

 

Paint and Smoke

Capstan Reds

Capstan Reds

I tend to think of myself as a landscape painter, I don’t know why. Sometimes it just doesn’t fit. I love the stuff in the landscape as much as the setting itself, even when it’s dirty fag packets.  The last post was about Motherwell’s fabulous prints based on smoke packets.  So after a dig in the past I’ve unearthed a few more images thanks to Double Whirler’s interest.  These were done some time ago and after a while they all blur together. I take close up photos sometimes when I think certain crops of paintings will work on a larger scale.

I often do not title my works and when I stumbled across this work in my photo storage “system”(a very loose term),  I had called it “Capstan Reds” so I guess it was one too, but can’t even remember painting this now and really had thought it was based on something completely different. I painted direct from John’s scrapbook collection and photographed them before returning them so I could source them later on.

Unknown

Unknown

Part of John's marvellous collection

Part of John’s marvellous collection

Alpine? Woodbine? Peter Stuyvestant??

Alpine? Woodbine? Peter Stuyvestant??

I’d Rather Go by Motherwell than a Stairwell…

“The wind carried away the cottonwool

At five in the afternoon.

And the oxide scattered crystal and nickel

At five in the afternoon”.  Garcia Lorca: Lament for Ignacio Sanchez Mejias.

Motherwell 1

Burning elegy artists proof

Canberra in winter is bitingly cold, a stark blue sky and cool grey concrete of the National Gallery seems like a world away from Spain and New York but the last couple of days I’ve felt the intensity of bullfights and the pain in painting.

 

 

photo(91)Robert Motherwell : At Five in the Afternoon currently at the National Gallery is a selection of prints from the Gallery’s collection and the curator Jane Kinsman gave a talk and some insight into Motherwells practice of printmaking.  The works spread across three rooms were brilliantly curated and each work was fabulous but a selection of small lithographs were simple and exquisite and captured the same emotions of the larger striking painterly works.

Lament for Lorca:

Lament for Lorca:

 

Some of the larger prints utilising graphics from cigarette packets reinforced that peculiar artist habit of finding inspiration in the mundane.  I remember as a child enamoured with the cigarette packets we used to sell in the boat hire business, Camel and Fiesta were my favourites but later I photographed old packets a friend had in their scrapbook for painted works not realising Motherwell too was drawn by the colour and shape.  Up until stumbling across John’s curious arty collection, I had tried to draw a camel packet from memory.

 

Motherwell: Hermitage

Motherwell: Hermitage

John's cigarette scrapbookMotherwell’s prints incorporating imagery and my painted works, now capture a lost period.  Smoking was acceptable and a filthy dangerous habit that I (for a short time) and Motherwell embraced.  Packets were bright and engaging. Cigarette packaging in Australia is now a dark, dull, khaki green and the only images gangrenous limbs and health warnings.  And I guess like any image, even cancerous body parts and minimalist packaging will provide some sort of inspiration for other artists down the line.

 

 

 

After the talk, we hit the wine and felt glad Motherwell had chosen drinking and painting over suicide. We are so much richer for his work and his immersion in the poetry of Lorca. We went back again the next day for another hit before heading home, did a swing by the Indigenous and Australian gallery and we had a choice – down the stairs or back through the exhibition?

 

I’D RATHER GO BY MOTHERWELL THAN A STAIRWELL.

Peter Stuyvesant

Detail from my Peter Stuyvesant painting

Plein-air & Plain Good

Tom Carment

Tom Carment

Tom Carment has taken out this years Parliament House Plein Air Painting Prize.  About time, I say.  He is just simply a good painter.  His work gets wall space in my studio and that is my measure of paint-worthiness.

 

 

 

Here is my blog from four years ago.

“A Random Sparkle”

Each time I visit the SH Ervin gallery, I seem to be drawn to the work of Tom Carment -I bought I wonderful book CH2.  Carla promptly told me I had bought her the same one. I had also bought a card of his work that was pinned on the wall in the Thirroul Studio. This afternoon I opened Artist Profile art mag for a well deserved read time only to find Tom Carment once again. Is it his plein-air-i-ness? The essence of subject? Maybe it’s what he describes as “the random sparkle.”

carment