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

 

 

 

 

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

The Burning Bush

David Hawkes: Study for a Beautiful Day 2

David Hawkes: Study for a Beautiful Day 2

Wedderburn is a small place, just out of Campbelltown west of Sydney.  You would expect with the concentration of most of Australia’s best abstract artists that it would be a remarkable place.  It’s not, it’s the bush and a gully and like most of the Australian landscape, scrappy gums,scrubby undergrowth and patchy pinkish rock.  Beautiful but not exceptional.  It’s the translation to art that makes it remarkable.E Cummings Crossing the Gully

"I could spend the rest of my life just painting this bit of bush." Elisabeth Cummings Wedderburn

“I could spend the rest of my life just painting this bit of bush.” Elisabeth Cummings Wedderburn

E Cummings Journey through the Studio 2004Elisabeth Cummings is the humble queen of the Wedderburn bush and her current exhibition at King Street Gallery is testament to her rights to that crown.  Regular readers of my blog will know already of the influence of her work on mine.  This exhibition has some truly notable pieces, especially Crossing the Gully and Small Billabong.

Looking at her work I am inspired to get back painting in oil and at the same time insecure in that I feel I would never be able to produce anything so exquisitely complete and complex.

Outside Watters

Watters Gallery SydneyJust down the road in Watters Gallery, David Hawkes also paints the Wedderburn Bush. Like Cummings, Hawkes takes the essence of that landscape and pours a rhythm of the bush into his work in slathers of paint. His 49 studies for a beautiful day seems to indicate every day is a beautiful day in Wedderburn.

A beautiful day in Sydney too.

Sydney Harbour Ferry stop

Queen Guinevere of the Whippy Van

Yesterday was another gallery jaunt. We were in the city so decided to check out the Museum of Contemporary Art. We parked at the top and wound our way down through the Rocks, the old part of the city.  I love the cut-ins, the stairs, the little cafes tucked in the back where you descend upon them.

These wonderful vermillion doors opening to blue sky. I love vermillion – the most intense orange. At the bottom a wonderful vivid red door surrounded in ivy.

The old peppercorn tree, green twisted and huge reminding me of my doggy Tim buried under the one in my old home.

And in the cutaway, a glimpse through the tunnel-like cave to light. At the bottom was the ice-cream truck or Mr Whippy as we call him. It reminded me of Greensleeves -the ding ding dingty ding theme played by the old ice-cream trucks. I loved this tune, not because of the drippy choc sundaes and nuts but because my first barbie doll. Her name was Queen Guinevere- I don’t know if I named her or if she came that way dressed in lush purple velvet and gold.

A day of coloured memories – vermillion and reds, pinks and soft greens and lush purples.

 

I Am Not an Island

The Island“A painting has to speak for itself…..” Kevin Connor

Yesterdays visit to the Art Gallery of NSW was beautiful. Sydney was warm, bright and crisp. I was at the gallery before the droves of school children with books and pencils. I envied them sitting on the cool morning grass opposite in the Botanic Gardens, eager to see the portraits.

I never did that as a child and I wondered how different my life would have been had I seen this painting when I was 10.

Dane Lovett‘s work “The Island” (pictured above) spoke to me as Kevin Connor ‘s quote, next to his Wynne entry.  Lovett’s  was a finalist in the Sulman Prize for genre painting and I guess initially it was his handling of paint that drew me in. Beautiful deft loose brushwork, purposeful yet an ease.  The more I studied it, the more it spoke. Lost technologies and change were the greater issues and his still life arrangement of past ephemera was composed to resemble an island. It tugged my heart-strings. Perhaps it was looking at the children with their books open, excited. Maybe it was the smell of oil paint, the Dylan album or the video itself The Island. From memory it was movie based on the Island of Dr Moreau, a haunting story that had always felt macabre but close to reality. I couldn’t help but think we are producing Moreau-type monsters with paint in the Archibald, large soulless heads bearing down on us.

Kevin Connor’s large looming work also had that element of mystery, paradise swathed in dark lit only by the moon. A wonderful work in restraint with a myriad of underdrawing that feeds his work and gives it strength. I was impressed with many works in the Wynne this year and the Archibald held the usual shock and awe.

 

 

The beautifully sad self-portrait of Jenny Sages “After Jack” but for me it was another mysterious painting by Melissa Egan of Charles Blackman that held my attention.  Once again beautiful handling of paint and that Moreau-ish intrusion of nature -a portrait hanging in the landscape.

I guess the unexpected warmth of May yesterday may have led to some disquiet in my choice of works and my yearning for earlier times.  Maybe it was reading Patti Smith’s biography on the train or I wanted to be a crossed-leg school girl in a dark blue hat, an exercise book to draw in and a cool floor to sit on surrounded by looming faces made of paint.