Thursday, 24 July 2014

Radiant weeks

 Traces of the work made for the Factory 49 group show, July 2014

Some weeks are just more heavenly than others. I am still gliding on the great news I received last week. This week's art rant follows.

Manna from heaven: A friend passed on a complementary ticket for the opening night of the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra. Listening to the Russian Countertenor, Dmitry Sinkovsky, was incredible. To hear such tones/notes, live, from a Countertenor was pleasantly disturbing in that it raised multiple gender questions and assumptions.

Annette Messager at the MCA. Enjoyed the artist talk with Rachel Kent.
It was fantastic to see so many savvy and remarkable Sculpture women in one room. As I sat there listening to Rachael interviewing the very charming and lucid Annette Messager, I couldn't help thinking about the remarkable bank of women sitting both behind me and in front of me. During the slide presentation, I found it very curious to see an image of an old style  circular shaped clock marking 11 minutes before the hour. As I have previously mentioned on this blog- Ich habe elf minuten. T'was a spooky art moment.

Pressing questions:
1. Margaret Roberts: Who will present her long overdue art museum survey? 
For readers who have not had the opportunity to see Margaret's work, I've attached the link to her website: 

If we go all out to import and present funky European and US artists, can we not extend the same graciousness and generosity to senior and remarkable Australian artist such as Margaret Roberts and Rose McGreevy?  We are not part of the US conversation, and as such, we would do well to remember this. 

Australian Artists, Art Historians, Curators, Collectors and most importantly Art Audiences all share the collective responsibility to create vibrant new chapters for the Australian art encyclopedia. Every single action counts: If you see a great show- let people know- on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms. Art only comes alive when it has an audience.

2. Why has there not been a large and significant national survey of Feminist art in Australia spanning 1970's- now in Sydney or Melbourne? Think large, i.e 150 + artists. Imagine: Anne Newmarch, Pam Harris, Barbara Hanrahan (distinguished Adelaide artists who have seldom been shown in Sydney) and then keep on adding as you work along the coastline to Sydney, then up the coast to the Torres Strait and then back around to Perth. Then take the selection tour inland to the Central Desert and the multiple communities that promote and encourage women of all skins that make art. Don't forget Tasmania and the wee islands south again.

I am extremely lucky that I grew up in Adelaide during the Don Dunstan years. For readers outside of Australia, Don Dunstan was a visionary state Premier (late 1960s-1970s) who put the Adelaide Festival on the international festival map. Dunstan's vision helped produce some of this countries most agile arts minds such as Robyn Archer and Anne Newmarch. The Dustan legacy helps me imagine all sorts of possibilities for both myself and other artists. It was moving to hear Djon Mundine recently cite Don Dunstan at the opening of 'Hereby make a protest'. Carriageworks commissioned Karla Dickens, Nicole Foreshew and Jacob Nash to make new works for this important exhibition.
It was rather lovely to hear Dunstan and his progressive thinking being discussed. It was good to be reminded of his ground breaking work in areas of social justice, the arts, indigenous rights and women's rights.

Invite: If you are in Sydney on the 6th of August, please take this note as an invite to attend an exhibition that marks nine years of conceptually rigorous output by Pam Aitken, Marlene Sarroff, Kate McKay and all the artist's associated with Factory 49. I will be putting in a new drawing that reflects the 'up draft' that I am currently gliding on. The opening starts at 6pm. Address: 49 Shepherd Street, Marrickville.

If I haven't already put you to sleep, the last event that bears noting is Xavier Le Roy's upcoming lecture at SCA on the 6th August. When I think about the work that he presented at KPAP's '13 Rooms', I remember being moved to my core. On one occasion the work reduced me to tears. On other occasions I would leave the space when I felt my eyes watering up with tears. Working on this project allowed me to take my work rest breaks and 'sit' with Le Roy's work on multiple occasions when there was no one else in the room. The work was deliciously private and so quiet. I cherish such rare performance moments. This performance registered on the same chromatic spectrum that also accommodates Tino Seghal's phenomenally sexy and energetic work that he presented at Dokumenta 12. It's little surprise that these two artists work together. 

Thursday, 17 July 2014

A little bit of fantastic news goes a long way

Now that a fierce storm has finally blown out to sea I can now pick up speed on multiple projects.

I am currently working on four suites of drawings and a new suite of smallish objects. As these drawings range from mural size to more domestic sized works, I've re-calibrated my studio (again). I now have five work stations set up which allows me to move from one to another without wasting any time. I've also allocated  two hour time brackets to work on each suite. When my phone alarm sounds after two hours, I take a five minute break and then move onto the next suite. This work load, plus other commitments will see me 'holed up' in my studio until the end of the year.


21/07/2014: Finished Raft #5 this weekend and have now tacked the paper for Raft # 6 to the wall (right wall), no's 2-4 are pinned to the back wall, and #4 is obscured by my work bench.

Other noteworthy news this month: 
1. Lynne Barwick's work [group exhibition] at Damien Minton Gallery was very well received. I keep returning to and imagining how these works would be received in Belgium and Germany where text art has a larger discerning audience.
2. Gillian Lavery has work in a group show title, Engage which opens tonight at a new gallery, 'M.Contemporary', 37 Ocean Street, Woollahra. Gillian is currently completing her Masters degree at COFA.
3. Maryanne Coutts' new work, 'Breaking news' (2014) @ Articulate Project Space. 
Based on evening news television broadcasts, Coutt's multi-panel work (watercolour on paper) included several haunting studies of faceless, and subsequently anonymous soldiers. On both my first and second viewing of 'Breaking news', I kept (and keep) imagining this work on display at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. Coutt's color palette instantly reminded me of Ruth Tuck's refined colour intelligence*. Coutt's accomplishment is that her watercolour palette is astute. It is devoid of saccharine sweet junk food colours.  
4. Home@735: Crisp and refreshing new gallery initiative by Anthony Bautovich and Madeleine Preston in their home. Bravo.

* Ruth Tuck (1914-2008): I was lucky to have Ruth as a tutor in the early 80s when I attended her after school art classes, first in Fullerton and then at Burnside, in Adelaide. Like many pre-internet age artists, it is deeply problematic and unfortunate that that most of Tuck's work has not been digitalised for the web. The few works available on the web do not do Ruth's work justice. These works only reflect approximately 20% of the vitality of the way she used colour. I would relish the chance to see, in person, how the 80s watercolours of her garden have stood the test of time. I would also be curious to see how a room hung with only Dorrit Black and Ruth's early, mid and late career work would work, given that Tuck was taught by Black. Note to self: Make haste. Get thee to the AGSA to see the Dorrit Black show.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Intersections between sculpture and neue musik: Rose McGreevy and Ensemble Offspring

Ensemble Offspring's (E.O) 'Plekto' concert the other night was brilliant. For those not familiar with Ensemble Offspring, the group is 'dedicated to a living classical music tradition'. The work that soaked into the my skin was by the Finnish composer, Kaija Saariaho (born 1952) and titled, 'Oi Kuu' (1990). The title of this piece loosely translates into English as 'for the moon'. To imagine, think and compose music is a gift. 

During the concert, and in between works, one of the Ensemble Offspring members stated that their collective wish was to produce electronic sounds using analogue methodologies/ instruments. On hearing this, I instantly smiled as it mirrored some of my own thoughts on creative processing of new work. As  some people will know, the drawings I have been producing over the last few months could be described as labour intensive. These drawings are also the direct result of my deliberate avoidance of digital technologies in my studio practice. I dislike the way in which digital technology frequently flattens and deletes time based and spatial elements in sculptural practices.

Sculpture and neue musik: I am inspired by the courage and determination of experimental and/or gifted classically trained musicians. Think Cage, Ensemble Offspring and all the neue musik composers and musicians that participate in events such as the Berliner Neue Musik Festival. For me, neue musik displays the conceptual substance, compositional dexterity, experimentation and playfullness (and the countless spaces in between all four anchors points) that I need to experience when I encounter a phenomenal sculpture. On this occasion, I smile as I am again reminded of Rose McGreevy's sombre floor work, 'Interrupting the spatial plane' (2014), which was presented at Articulate Project Space during the 'Fair Isle' project. McGreevy's work was an astute meditation on being. 

Listening to Kaija Saariahno's 'Oi Kuu' made me think on Rose's practice and her work, 'Interrupting the spatial plane' (2014). 'Oi Kuu' was performed on bass flute by Lamorna Nightingale and on cello by Judith Hamann. [The piece was originally written for a clarinetist and cellist.] The inspired delivery and conversation between the cello and bass flute parts in this piece instantly reminded me of Rose's parred back selection of materials and the conversations she has set up between her deliberately selected materials. For a moment during the concert I imagined a visual and auditory hybrid fiction where Rose's selection of materials transformed into the sounds of a bass flute and cello. [Working the other way, I also tried to imagine what Saariahno's work would look like if someone attempted to turn it into a minimalist sculpture. ] For those who have not seen this work by Rose, several pieces of roughly hewn wooden planks were arranged in conversation with, and astutely positioned to bisect, four mdf square panels that were delicately positioned as if they were frozen in a minimalist's pirouette. Several strategically positioned small stakes of dowel wood mapped the work into position. To see images of this work and other works, please visit Rose's blog:
Additional reference: Tacita Dean's collaboration with Merce Cunningham, 'Stillness', presented at ACCA in 2009.

I remain eternally grateful to my phenomenal Mother for my classical music education (theory and practical), which she juggled with my brother's and my extra curricular visual arts, museum education, Polish language and dance classes. Being a feminist and a Pole, my Mother went out of her way to provide additional extra-curricular educational activities. She warned me that I would need every tool available to me to counter the gender biases in society and in the work place. [When my Mother arrived in Australia in the early 1960s she was mortified to discover that she as a citizen and woman had significantly more rights in communist Poland than she did in the 'west' in 'free' Australia in the 1960+.] Her investment in my education has now come full circle. As I have mentioned to close friends, my trip to Germany to visit Dokumenta (2012) cemented a new standpoint: The only people who have a responsibility to promote Australian Artists are other Australian's working in the arts. 

I have now taken on new responsibilities and projects to help promote under recognised mid and late career Australian experimental artists working with spatial theory, installation and drawing. I am thrilled to announce that I will be working closely with Rose McGreevy to present her Survey exhibition in 2015. More details will be released closer to the date.

10/7/2014: Someone has just uploaded vid footage from the 'Paper' show at Factory 49:

Ich habe elf minuten.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Upcoming group show: 6th August

Who, what, when: The 9th Annual Factory 49 group exhibition opens on the 6th August and will be on until the 16th August. 
Participants: Full list of artists will be uploaded when details are released.
Address: 49 Shepherd Street,Marrickville.
Notes: I am enjoying getting to slowly know the dedicated Factory 49 crew: Kate McKay, Marlene Sarroff and Pam Aitken. Exhibition spaces such as 'Factory 49' and 'Articulate Project Space' are of paramount importance in a city that is increasingly driven and pressured by commercial objectives that do nothing to encourage trial and experimentation.