contemporaryart, Exhibitions, Galleries, Inspiration, Stocktaking, Studio practice

Meditating on the simple (?) art of introversion

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Studio detail, 2019

Yes, apologies are in order for yet another late blog post (a significantly late one at that). I’m still guilty of letting life get in the way, and sometimes run off with itself entirely. Life, family, discouragement, health – so many roadblocks on the highway to creative outcomes.

I’ve been struggling lately to put into words what I’ve been experiencing and feeling, and how it’s affecting my work. A lot of self-reflection, drilling down, streamlining, has been happening. I can see new perspectives on the horizon, new methods of working, and more clarity in vision.

My own natural introversion has been overtaking. I’m in a hibernating, ruminating, self-examining, wintry kind of space. Long range studio experimentation is on the agenda. A desire for simplification, quiet, and depth of meaning is humming away in the background.

Fortunately for me the The School of Life blog landed in my inbox recently with a beautifully worded piece that perfectly explains my present mindset. The Hard Work of Being ‘Lazy’ examines, and indeed justifies, the need for withdrawal into the self in order to reflect and process experience so that productive progress can be achieved. I encourage you to read the entire thing (click on the link above and you’ll see what I mean in a couple of minutes).

Here is a passage worth noting:

“Our minds are in general a great deal readier to execute than to reflect. They can be rendered deeply uncomfortable by so-called large questions: What am I really trying to do? What do I actually enjoy and who am I trying to please? How would I feel if what I’m currently doing comes right? What will I regret in a decade’s time? By contrast, the easy bit can be the running around, the never pausing to ask why, the repeatedly ensuring that there isn’t a moment to have doubts or feel sad or searching. Business can mask a vicious form of laziness.”

And this:

“The point of ‘doing nothing’ is to clean up our inner lives. There is so much that happens to us every day, so many excitements, regrets, suggestions and emotions that we should – if we are living consciously – spend at least an hour a day processing events. Most of us manage – at best – a few minutes – and thereby let the marrow of life escape us. We do so not because we are forgetful or bad, but because our societies protect us from our responsibilities to ourselves through their cult of activity. We are granted every excuse not to undertake the truly difficult labour of leading more conscious, more searching and more intensely felt lives.”

(Owned by, and reproduced from, The Book of Life under Creative Commons License)

I’m tempted to recommend this as a useful passage for artists of any persuasion, but really it’s a permission note for human beings to recalibrate without feeling guilt at not producing tangible outcomes 24/7. How do you feel about this deep-thinking kind of readjustment in your own life? Do you allow yourself the time for this kind of examination?

Exhibitions that have left an impression me, and that have fed into this thinking include Chris Capper’s work at Sheffer Gallery (part of  Damien Minton’s 583 Elizabeth St Projects) in Sydney earlier this year, the Asia Pacific Triennial at QAGOMA in Brisbane, and Akira Isogawa’s show at Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum.

Being unfamiliar with Chris Capper’s paintings I was impressed by their charming simplicity. I say charming because at first glance they appear a little naive but on closer inspection they reveal texture and a layering of colour that is both subtle and somehow poignant in their softness. A beautiful combination of still life and abstraction, their buttery paint strokes and soft edges are just quietly, intimately dreamy.

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Chris Capper paintings, Sheffer Gallery, 2019

Mongolian artist Enkhbold Togmidshiirev’s work at this year’s Asia Pacific Triennial struck me with its beauty and strength (and apparent simplicity) amidst a lot of detail in a beautifully put together collection of work from the Asia Pacific region. His embedding of memory into his work is achieved through incorporating animal dung, mushroom dust, ash, rust and various cloths – elements of the land and culture where he was raised. Locally dyed blue silk panels, known as khadag, representing benevolence (in this case inherited from his parents), cover a canvas in abstract, ethereal gradations of blue. Likewise, the adjacent piece reveals its own abstract shapes beneath the clouds of rust. Quiet, strong and beautiful.

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Enkhbold Togmidshiirev’s large scale work, Benevolence, 2013, silk, cotton thread, rust and gel medium on canvas.

Enkhbold Togmidshiirev, Without Form, 2014, horse dung, mushroom dust, gel medium, cotton and wax on canvas, and Coming Season, 2015, horse dung, gel medium, cotton, wax and hessian sack on canvas

Shilpa Gupta’s mesmerising sound installation piece For, in Your Tongue, I Can Not Fit, situated in a dark, cavernous space lit with a few light bulbs, poignantly reveals politically silenced readings from various activists, politicians and influencers through history – in multiple languages – from 100 suspended microphones. The written texts are impaled onto metal rods beneath the microphones. A compelling installation with intense human feeling and truth at its core.

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Shilpa Gupta’s For, in Your Tongue, I Can Not Fit, 2017-18, 100 speakers, microphones, printed text, metal stands.

Indigenous artists Margaret Rarru and Helen Ganalmirriwuy’s black baskets (bathi mul) are extraordinary. Using strands of pandanus leaf that has been steeped in a rare black (and secretly processed) dye, the baskets are woven in such a way that, on close inspection, the surfaces gradate between black and charcoal, matte and metallic. Beautiful simple shapes, beautiful surfaces, they are objects infused with cultural meaning and earthiness.

Margaret Rarru and Helen Ganalmirriwuy, Mindirr, 2012, pandanus palm and natural dyes.

The Powerhouse Museum’s Akira Isogawa exhibition, while undeniably expressing exquisite embellishment, the underlying shapes are simple, pared back, and economical. His approach, while honoring the cultural significance of the kimono and Japanese cultural practice generally, utilises all of the fabric, either into the garment itself or in accessories. How’s that for virtuosic sustainability! And incredibly striking, inventive clothing that pays no heed to prevailing trends of commercial fashion.

These are works that have left an imprint on me in multiple ways that are augmenting my approach to my own practice.

Stay tuned.

All the best,

RP signature_tiny

rhondapryor.com

rhondapryor10@gmail.com

 

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Gratitude, Holidays

Best. Ever. Festive. Cheer.

Alas, my intention for regular blogging has been thwarted yet again this year, with distractions aplenty eating into my schedule and my concentration. While I endeavour to keep regular I hope you’ll forgive my sporadic bursts of activity. I suppose that’s the nature of the creative life (albeit one that needs more discipline with time).

As  2018 draws to a close I’d like to thank you for your support, encouragement and participation of/with my work this year.

2019 will bring some exciting things I’ll be telling you about in the new year but right now I’m sure you’re as keen as I am to wind down, breathe deeply and enjoy a bit of reflection time.

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I hope you spend the Christmas break doing something you love.

 

Recharge.

Enjoy yourself.

Be kind and curious.

Until 2019, cheers and very best wishes,

 

https://www.rhondapryor.com

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Art spaces, contemporaryart, Exhibitions, Galleries, Textiles, upcycling, workshops

Exhibition reminder and a special workshop offer…

 

Only a few days to go until my exhibition Stories We Tell Ourselves opens at 541 Art Space. I hope you can come.

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To complement the exhibition I’ll be running two three-hour stitch workshops on Saturday 8th and Saturday 22nd September.

541 Art Space is very generously offering my subscribers a 20% discount on the price of these sessions. All you need to do is click on this link to book. When purchasing your ticket click “enter promotional code” and enter the promotion code “RHONDA” to claim your 20% discount.

Here are the workshop details:

Stories We Tell Ourselves stitch workshops

Saturday 8th September, 12-3 pm (includes afternoon tea)
Saturday 22nd September,12-3 pm (includes exhibition closing drinks)

At 541 ART SPACE, Level 1, 541 Kent Street Sydney

Spend an afternoon stitching an abstract artwork that reflects your own unique story. You are encouraged to bring along any personal or used fabric or garments that are meaningful to you in some way (that you won’t mind cutting up). We’ll explore shape, colour, composition and memory to make a special piece of art or an experimental piece that will expand your creativity that little bit more.

All equipment and materials will be provided, including a selection of fabrics if you forget to bring some of your own.

Bookings are essential. Cost $25 + booking fee.

For more information please email 541artspace_programs@nanhaimedia.com

I hope to see you at this Friday’s opening (or at one of the workshops)!
All the best,

 

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Inspiration, Quotes, Stocktaking, Studio practice

Thinking, reflecting, digging

Sometimes it’s good to revisit favourite or resonant quotes when in contemplative mode or in the thick of studio work. You can get lost in your own world when busy in the studio but it’s good to remind yourself why you work there in the first place.

Searching for your voice, the tweak that will give the work its edge, the reality of what you’re trying to say: these are the things you dig for, work for, explore for.

You might already be familiar with these but it never hurts to read them again:

Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant, there is no such thing. Making your unknown known is the important thing.

Georgia O’Keeffe

Hmm… thanks Georgia.

 

Art is a way of recognizing oneself.

Louise Bourgeois

Agreed Louise.

 

Art is restoration: the idea is to repair the damages that are inflicted in life, to make something that is fragmented – which is what fear and anxiety do to a person – into something whole.

Louise Bourgeois

Yes. I like this.

 

Art is the concrete representation of our most subtle feelings.

Agnes Martin

Of course.

 

Art is the only way to run away without leaving home.

Twyla Tharp

Thank God for escape routes.

 

There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.

Martha Graham

I just love this one Martha.

 

And here are a few images of works in progress. More old stuff, memories, trying to make sense of things…

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These are some of the works I’m getting ready for my solo show in September. I’ll let you know the details in a later post.

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Residencies, Studio practice, upcycling, workshops

The Coal Loader: industrial artist studio residency 2018

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This week I begin a ten month artist residency at the Coal Loader Centre for Sustainability at Balls Head, Waverton in Sydney. A beautiful industrial site overlooking Sydney Harbour and situated next to HMAS Waterhen, it’s a tranquil, lush and inspiring place to work and explore.

If I don’t get too distracted by the views.

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I’m looking forward to exploring the industrial remnants and history of this unique site that serves as a much-loved community resource, in what has to be one of the most incredible locations for an artist-in-residence studio. The industrial features are everywhere – even the studio floor.

I’ll be working with old, used fabrics and other materials, reflecting on the influences of the site’s industrial and commercial history, its surviving architectural elements, and the juxtaposition with its current use.

There will be a public program including a monthly open studio and several workshops throughout the year, so the public can pop in for a chat and see what I’m working on, or learn some new skills if so inclined.

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Here’s a link you might be interested in with some details of the site. In a future blog I’ll add another link to the public programs page when the workshops and open studios have been finalised.

So drop around and say hi, and check out the community vegetable gardens, beautiful harbour views, great cafe (opposite the studio) and the chicken coop.

And don’t forget all that rust, those evocative tunnels, and that crumbly wharf – all begging to be photographed and explored.

 

 

 

North Sydney Council are gratefully acknowledged for the provision of the Coal Loader Artist Studio.

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Art spaces, Kids, Textiles, upcycling, workshops

New classes, new art centre

It’s been a full-on start to 2018. New workshops are planned, a refurbished art centre I’m involved with is nearing completion, and I have new work in development for exhibitions in the second half of the year.

Firstly, its amazing to see the progress of the refurbishment of a building in my local area (Lane Cove in Sydney) for a creative art centre where both practitioners and community can make,  practice, and  explore their creative potential. As a member of the Centrehouse Management Committee and its refurbishment sub-committee, it has been a bit of a long slog getting the new Gallery Lane Cove + Creative Studios building happening.

But this week’s site visit has made it all seem within reach at last. (Big pats on the back for all the fantastic committee members and Lane Cove Council staff who have made this happen!).

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The huge, light-filled painting and drawing studio.

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The textile studio.

With studios that will accommodate painting and drawing classes, textile practice, printmaking and ceramics, as well as space for practising visiting artists, the new centre will replace the old Centrehouse Community Art Centre facilities and be located on two floors beneath the existing (and recently renovated) Gallery Lane Cove.

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One of the artist-in-residence spaces.

On track to open mid year, the centre will be a welcome addition to the fast-developing northern Sydney region. Stay tuned for news about all the opening events!

I also have some new workshops coming up in the next couple of months I want to let you know about. Click on the links for more information and bookings.

Friday 23 March

Stitch Drawing on Fabric and Paper

Creating Wellbeing Program (free workshop), North Sydney Community Centre

 

Wednesday 11 April

Looking at Water: Memory Loss and Dementia Art Session

Kirribilli Neighbourhood Centre

 

Thursday 12 April

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Boro Bag Workshop for Adults

Workshop Arts Centre

 

Monday 16 April

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Slow-Stitch Apron Workshop for kids (course #95)

Ku-Ring-Gai Arts Centre

 

Wednesday 18 April

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Making Memories with my Grandchild Workshop

Art Space on the Concourse, Chatswood

More details to follow…

 

Thursday 19 April

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Slow-Stitch Tote Bag Workshop for kids

Workshop Art Centre

 

Monday 23 April

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Slow-Stitch Apron Workshop for kids (course #108)

Ku-Ring-Gai Arts Centre

 

Thursday 26 April

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Slow-Stitch Tote Bag Workshop for kids

Workshop Art Centre

 

Can’t wait to see you or your kids at one of the workshops!

 

 

 

 

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Artists, Inspiration, Studio practice, Textiles, upcycling

Fragments and Patches

I want to share with you visual art and textile lovers a couple of intriguing articles I’ve come across of late.

The first is a piece in issue number 77 of Selvedge magazine, Keeping Body and Soul Together. If you don’t have access to a print copy you can see an abbreviated version of the article here, under the title Going Going Ge Ba. With the most beautiful photography by Mark Eden Schooley, the article by quilt expert Dr Sue Marks outlines the old Chinese practice of making ‘Ge Ba’, a type of textile collage. With up to 15 fabric layers held together with rice glue, the resulting pieces (roughly 40 x 60 cm) were pretty tough, and were cut up to sole shoes!

All kinds of fabrics scraps were used to make Ge Ba, anything worn out or no longer of use, old embroideries and even propaganda cloth. Perhaps they can be seen as a Chinese version of Japanese boro.

I think you’ll see why I love them. The compositions are striking textural abstracts, in much the same vein as boro.

Ge Ba collage

Image: Selvedge blog, Going Going Ge Ba, 27 September 2017

The other article I wanted to mention is also a Selvedge one. Painting with Wool, on their blog of September 27, features American textile artist Channing Hansen‘s organic knitted works. This guy is wild! His complicated compositions are made of various natural fibres he dyes himself, patch-knitted in rambling formations. His work process must be so frenzied!

Channing Hansen Marc Selwyn Fine Art

Image: Marc Selwyn Fine Art

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Image: Selvedge blog, Knitting DNA, 16 June 2017

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Image: Selvedge blog, Painting with Wool, 27 September 2017

Feeling inspired? Pretty amazing work, don’t you think?

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