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

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

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

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.

Serra-ndippity

Richard Serra Vico,2002

Richard Serra Drawings

Blackness is a property, not a quality”  Richard Serra.

Recently Richard Serra has been on my art hit list.  Looking at public art, it has hard to see past him, his work is solid, demanding and ‘complexingly’ simple. I have a loan of a  beautiful book to read from my pal Jane Richard Serra Drawings.

Serra & Pollock, it's all about action

Serra & Pollock, it’s all about action

I suppose coming from a blacksmith’s daughter, steel was a material sheet-rolled into my psyche.  I watched my dad melt lead and instead of flinging against a wall like Serra, he poured it into molds for sinkers.  He curved steel in the shed to form horse shoes, like Serra curving lines within a room. Most of the time I was forbidden to go into the work shed, but I would don the Ned Kelly welding helmet, smelly and sweaty. I would wave my stig wand and pretend to make steel glow.

Serra, Vico 2002.

Serra, Vico 2002.

 

Unfortunately Dad never got around to see my (very inept) welding skills and I think he would have loved Serra as much as me, he could have explained the properties and the logistics. I recently looked at making a sculpture on the scale of a Serra and was excited to see a drawing materialise, if only in Photoshop as a huge monolith, emerging from my lake.

 

 

 

Paintlater, Graphite, oil pastel  2014.

Paintlater, Graphite, oil pastel 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

Paintlater, 'Down' 2014

Paintlater, ‘Down’ 2014

Paintlater, Maquette fro 'Down' 2014

Paintlater, Maquette for ‘Down’ 2014

Smoke on the Water

Smoke over Sydney Image: www.thedailytelegraph.com.au

Smoke over Sydney Image: http://www.thedailytelegraph.com.au

The last time I wrote was quite a while ago, the skies were blue for the promise of Sculpture by the Sea next week.  This morning when I took my puppy for a walk around the lakes edge I couldn’t see the mountains.  Thick smoke hanging on the water, the result surrounding bush fires from the south, north and west. Tragically almost 200 homes have been lost in the last couple of days and it’s not summer yet.  This photo shows the clouds hanging heavy over Sydney.  I wanted to share some images from one of my books, Fireworks by Gavin Wilson.

I recently blogged about John Peart, a wonderful Australian abstractionist who reportedly lost his life to smoke inhalation just recently in a harsh but beautiful landscape that he painted so well.  In the same area of Wedderburn, Elisabeth Cummings lost her studio to bush fires and painted this work Wedderburn After the Fire described as a “defiant act of creation admits the embers of despair” by author Gavin Wilson.

Darren Pateman The Ashes 2002

Darren Pateman The Ashes 2002

E CummingsJon Cattapan’s work From the Shoalhaven Fires 2003 reminded me of the same fires that had us marooned on the waters edge, watching “Elvis” the giant water-giving helicopter dipping and dousing.  It was Xmas day and we were without power for three weeks, listening to the radio and collecting ice from brave fisherman that would cross the fire lines.  We played cards, talked with neighbours and drank mostly warm beer by the water.  We were lucky.

Tim Storrier The Ladder 1993

Tim Storrier The Ladder 1993

Ronnie Tjampitjinpa Bushfire 2003

Ronnie Tjampitjinpa Bushfire 2003

Jon Cattapan From The Shoalhaven Fires 2003

Lloyd Rees for Leftovers

photo-26I love leftovers.

After visiting the recent Lloyd Rees exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW, I pulled out my collection of Lloyd Rees books for another helping of his work.  One of the books, Lloyd Rees in Europe by Hendrik Kolenberg is a beautiful collection of drawings and watercolours of his trip during the 50’s 60’s and 70’s.  I bought this book from a friend, Sandy quite a few years ago. Sandy’s leftovers have become some of my favourite dishes.

photo-24

My other book Lloyd Rees by Renee Free was also a left over. Deleted from Library Collection is stamped very clearly in red and a thick black marker across the bar code.  Pasted in the front page is an old-fashioned yellow library pocket with a frenzied green date stamp, last marked in 1995. This book hasn’t had the careful nurturing like Sandy’s book but is a little bumped around the edges, a bit crinkly and smells of a library. I like the plastic wrapping, like a plate of last nights offerings. It means I can leave it on the paint table and not be so tentative.

Tucked between the pages the last borrower, Valerie,  left her  shopping list of library items. It made me wonder why it was destined to be deleted.

photo-25

I have mentioned Lloyd Rees‘ work before and he is a pretty tasty morsel.  He also travelled and painted the area close to where I live and the little town of Gerringong will be holding a Lloyd Rees Festival in December.  Hopefully they will serve up quite a decent helping and more people will get to taste his recipes for drawing. A new book will be launched by Henrik Kolenberg. I wonder if I should buy it freshly packaged or wait like I did for the others to ripen over time.Lloyd Rees 2

Lloyd Rees Europe

Lloyd Rees sketchbooks

I’m a Sticky Beak

“I’m a sticky beak…” Angus Nivison

My stuff to get distracted by....

My stuff to get distracted by….

I can never get enough art.  I have proven this by the use of my time.  I listen to podcasts whilst driving, on the train and now even peeling vegetables.  There is always a backlog of something to listen to and this week I chose a great podcast by Angus Nivison, Wendy Sharpe and R. Ian Lloyd. It was recorded at the State Library of NSW to coincide with the launch of one of my favourite books, Studio by John McDonald and R. Ian Lloyd.  They were talking about the photo shots of their studios and listening over freshly de-strung beans, I tried to remember what they were like.  All I remembered was that I identified with Angus Nivison the most when I first bought the book back in 2007.

Angus Nivison

Today I pulled the book out and was keen to have another look after so long.  I’m not as Baconesque as Nivison’s studio but it was the similar materials, looking at the same books such as Bonnard, Giacometti, Indigenous art and open art mags that made it feel familiar.  It’s the studio I would have if there was more room leaving empty cans, stiffened brushes and empty tape rolls behind me in my wake.  In contrast Wendy Sharpe’s studio feels like a workplace. It appears to have the ability to perform without too much distraction or threat of injury, surrounded by working paintings. There are no tempting paint stained books open to trip over and cause loss of focus.  Shes does mention in the interview a central table where the books can be safely ogled.  I have tried this in the past but as you can see from the last photo, the table was close to the point of collapse after a short while.

Wendy Sharpe 1In the podcast the photographer talks about his experiences of first impressions.  The photos in this book are simply brilliant and the photo of Nivison’s studio taken while hanging from open rafters captures what I would love to do, flying overhead taking in the experience of studio-envy. In Angus Nivison’s words “I’m a sticky beak….”

Just another note, I also bought the DVD at the same time. I have loaned this to someone and cannot remember who. If it’s you please PLEASE give it back I love it and miss it. I can assure you it’s not in this mess.

My old studio table.

My old studio table.

A Big Mixed Bag of Lollies

Anish Kapoor Memory

Anish Kapoor Memory

Multiple exhibitions in one venue can sometimes be a mixed bag of lollies.  There’s usually the big musk stick that pops out the top of the bag and draws you in and then there are the ones  at the bottom, the three for 5 cent  jubey things.  My trip to the Museum of Contemporary Art Sydney was like that.

photo-12

Anish Kapoor proved musk stick-like to be as good as it looked. Something sweet and distinct at every bite, leaving a unique taste in your mouth.  The promise of more sweets inside was the huge mirror dish reflecting Sydney Harbour on a perfectly blue hundreds-and-thousands sparkly day.  Having been impressed by his work for a long time I was hoping for the best and I got better. As usual looking at the works on line, in books, on DVDs doesn’t cut the musk stick.photo-10

At the same time the other exhibition South of No North jubes proved to be strawberries and cream. Delicious with no fan-fare, three for one. The exhibition was based on works by Noel McKenna, Wiliam Eggleston and Laurence Aberhart. Noel McKenna’s work has always made me smile. From his doggie poster series to big things. This was a wonderful exhibition and although it is hard to compare the  monumental work of Anish Kapoor, there was a similarity in the complete paring down of subject and the strength in simplicity. I especially loved these small tiles of simply drawn ordinary objects and one of the best known useful products ever deserving to be lauded in glazed ceramic : liquid nails.  It was also wonderful to see his influences in Aberhart and Eggleston.

photo-8So my little bag of MCA mixed lollies proved to be quite sweet . It wasn’t too sickly and way too tempting to refuse.photo-6photo-9

If you hadn’t tried this before, click here for my Doggie Quiz inspired by Noel McKenna.

How Much is that Doggie

Give Some, Take Some and Two Bags Full

20130324-133458.jpg
I swore no more books in the house until some leave. I rummaged the shelves for sacrifices for the next big book fair. I piled them into two huge bags, took some out, put a couple back in and lugged them to the boot.

20130324-134001.jpg I can’t believe the Lifeline Big Book Fair has rolled around again so soon and today is half price Sunday. I expected the visual arts section to be dessimated by the last two days of hungry art students but the pickings were great and I chowed down on a Guggenheim publication, an old botanical art book too big for the shelf as well as some lovely old 50’s mags.

20130324-134606.jpg
Of course I ended up leaving …heaving the same two bags I had arrived with, more fresh old books. The smell of musty books and scouts cooking sausage sangers makes this Sunday in March delightful.

20130324-135813.jpg

Another Splash

Hockney A Rakes ProgressI finished David Hockney’s biography “A Rakes Progress” by Christopher Simon Sykes at the same time as my daughter returned from London where she saw A Bigger Splash Painting After Performance at the Tate Modern. We seem to have that sync with art. Sometimes we disagree on the merit of works and artists but for the most part we are at one.

A Bigger Splash Tate Modern 2013I loved this book and found a renewed enthusiasm for drawing. It reminded me of art school and David Hockney Drawings a volume that was much too heavy to keep taking out of the library on a regular basis. I could not juggle the book, the paintings and the backpack so I would spend lunch poring over it at the table in the library, sketchbook out and scribbly notes taken.  The good books were always the biggest – Rauschenburg, Picasso and another on my regular list – Asian Abstraction.

Elaine De KooningMy current book is one that my little girl had found for me, another wonderful gift:  Elaine De Kooning The Spirit of Abstract Expressionism Selected Writings.  Full of essays and insights from a painter and a critic.