Artists, Books, Galleries, Stocktaking

Ready for renewal

img_4271Noumea’s pristine waters

What a year. A big jumble of highs and lows, moving too fast, and either scrambling to keep up or rejecting the hype and opting for some hibernation. I’m guilty on all counts.

After a week doing lots of nothing by a pool in Noumea, surviving the Christmas chaos,  and with  head swirling with ideas, I’m mending the error of my ways. To make up for my lack of blogging the past couple of months I thought a good old stocktake of brain food might be in order. So here goes.

Some of the most interesting and thought provoking exhibitions I’ve seen this year:

img_2245   img_2180Biennale of Sydney (Chiharu Shiota on the left)
img_2314  img_236721_21 Design Sight, Tokyo (We Make Carpets on the left), and antique boro textiles exhibition at Amuse Museum, Tokyo
img_3112    img_31142015 Parliament  of NSW Aboriginal Art Awards, Gallery Lane Cove, Sydney
IMG_3569.JPG    img_3567Shona Wilson, Arthouse Gallery, Sydney
img_3947   img_3941   img_3940   On the Origins of Art, MONA, Hobart (until April 17, 2017)
img_4147   img_4140Slipstitch, Mosman Regional Art Gallery, Sydney (Sera Waters, left and Jane Theau, right). (until January 29, 2017)

Now for a line up of some of the books I’ve read this year – at least the ones I can remember (in no particular order):

The Streetsweeper (Elliot Perlman). A great read. Loved it. Hard to put down.

If This is a Man (Primo Levi) – again. Graphic and raw. So readable and well written.

The Truce (Primo Levi). See above.

Burial Rites (Hannah Kent). Amazing storyteller. Just amazing.

Dinner with Edward (Isabel Vincent). A gorgeous account of a very special friendship. A delight to read.

The Good People (Hannah Kent). See Burial Rites above.

Thirteen Ways of Looking (Colum McCann). Great Irish writer.

Wardrobe Crisis (Clare Press). Really interesting read on the appalling waste that our clothing mania creates, but woefully edited.

Productivity for Creative People (Mark McGuinness). Recommended.

Motivation for Creative People (Mark McGuinness). See above.

And now the partly read ones (sometimes I do get back to finish that stack next to the bed…):

The Buried Giant (Kazuo Ishiguro). Not happening for me yet…

The Glass Room (Simon Mawer). Can’t seem to get going with this. Characters are cold.

Resilience (Mark McGuinness). Work.

The Art Rules (Paul Klein). More work.

Mortality (Christopher Hitchens). I’ve been lazy here (or avoiding the subject).

Exit Wounds (John Cantwell). See above.

Dog Days (Ross Garnaut). See above.

How Proust Can Change Your Life (Alain de Botton). Delightful. See below.

Fashion and Orientalism (Adam Geczy). Got to get back into this one.

So much richness to be thankful for, and so much to look forward to. So many ideas to process. Year’s end really is a perfect time for renewing optimism for the possibilities ahead. I hope that in 2017 you find yourself inhabiting a space where you genuinely feel you’re meant to be, doing just what you’re meant to, surrounded by people who support you.

Very best wishes for a creative, thoughtful and harmonious 2017, and I look forward to sharing fortnightly blog posts with you throughout the year.



A bit of insight never goes astray

Creativity books

Sometimes I find I’m drawn to analysing why I do (or don’t do) things. Over the past few months I’ve been reading, amongst other books, some real crackers on the processes of creativity. I thought I’d share them with you, as they’re bound to resonate with you other creative folk out there.

If you haven’t already read it, Austin Kleon‘s most recent book Show Your Work is a deceptively simple, practical encouragement guide to getting out of your shell. He has a nice, friendly, in-your-face way of getting the message across.

(Workman Publishing Company, New York, 2014)


Art & Fear: observations on the perils (and rewards) of artmaking really probes into what’s behind your work, identifying your fears, artist’s block, and the processes of making art and generally leading a creative life. David Bayles and Ted Orland have put together a study in the psychology of being an artist that is reassuring, insightful, and at times a little confronting. My copy is the 14th printing, so what more can I say?

(Image Continuum Press Edition, Santa Cruz CA & Eugene OR, 14th printing 2014)

Right now I’m reading Twyla Tharp‘s The Creative Habit: learn it and use it for life. It has lots of insights into her creative process and career hiccups, exercises to challenge your creative thinking, and some sound advice thrown in too. Not to mention the roles of generosity and valuing yourself and others. So far I’m only a quarter of the way through but it’s obvious already it’s a winner.

(Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, New York, 2006)

They’re well worth hunting down if you’re not familiar with these titles. I’d love to hear your opinions if you’ve read any of them. Have they raised questions for you about your work or the way you practice? Have you found them of value?