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.

 

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Exhibitions, Inspiration, Japan, Residencies, workshops

Images, memory and boro love

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How do you feel about the power of images? Do you ever stop and think about the impact images have had on your life? They’ve always been hugely influential to me, and I can think of many I’ve carried around in my head since early childhood.

A more recent episode that illustrates this is my fascination with Japanese antique boro textiles and clothing. A few years ago I came across my first boro images (yep, on the internet) and was captivated by their layering, frayed and tangled edges, faded surfaces, and their quirky and sometimes desperate stitching. But what I think screamed out to me the most was the obvious extent to which these items were valued by their makers and their families – out of desperate poverty I might add, but the Japanese have a way with aesthetics that can make your head spin.

While my art practice began with (mostly oil) painting, my recent work involves photography, textiles and installation. I found the sentiment of these boro textiles very sympathetic to the intentions in my own work. Memory, a sense of place, traces of human touch and history now all interconnect with varying input from photographs, cloth and stitch.

All this led me to undertake an artist residency in Japan last month, where I saw authentic boro that didn’t disappoint. More on my residency next week. But in the meantime here are some photographs I took at Amuse Museum in Asakusa, Tokyo that show some exquisite textiles and clothing. Here is the museum’s website. And if you’d like to see more I can recommend Sri Threads beautiful website as well. I wonder if they touch your sensibilities too?

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This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body

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I’d also like to acknowledge the assistance of the Copyright Agency Creative Individuals Career Fund for this project

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Exhibitions, Residencies, workshops

Textile embellishment the Japanese way

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I’ve received great news over the Christmas break! I’ve been awarded a grant from the Copyright Council Career Fund to undertake a residential workshop with Japanese Textile Workshops in Japan, west of Tokyo, in May. We’ll be dyeing with indigo and covering shibori techniques, sashiko stitching, stencilling and some weaving and silk processing. The tools and looms are authentic, aged Japanese instruments, so it’s going to be a unique opportunity to experience these processes first-hand. You can find the link to the workshop blog here.

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In the meantime I’ve had to satisfy my impatience by seeking out other beautiful Japanese things, like the images in this blog of an exhibition at the Art Gallery of South Australia. While visiting Adelaide at Christmas I found, by accident, The Power of Pattern: the Ayako Mitsui Collection, showing extraordinarily finely cut stencils for textile prints. The stencils are cut from mulberry paper and treated with persimmon tannin. The detailing is exquisite and incredibly fine. The exhibition runs until March 13. I highly recommend it.

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Here is the link to the exhibition.

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I’m off on a short one week trip to Japan later this week so will be saturating my senses with art, craft, architecture and culture in preparation for May’s workshop.

I’ll keep you posted!

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Exhibitions, Inspiration

More fabric obsessions: Collette Dinnigan’s exceptional detailing

Collette Dinnigan’s Unlaced exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum/Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences in Sydney is an inspiring masterpiece. So well put together and so much exquisite detail to pore over – I’m compelled to go for a second time this weekend.

Here’s a little taster.

Go. Enjoy. A droolworthy experience all round.

Unlaced

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Artists, Exhibitions, workshops

A workshop with the floral sculpture queen – Tracey Deep

I spent a sublime morning playing around with native flora at Tracey Deep’s floral sculpture workshop at Penrith Regional Gallery recently. Mixing flowers, sticks, bark, foliage, burnt banksias and other fire-branded natural flora we created enormous delicious compositions before having a guided tour of her exhibition Desert Song.

I was keen to do the workshop because of my interest in natural dyeing. The geometry of the compositions and the diverse specimens were a delight, and it was a real treat to be surrounded by so much native bush while we worked. You can see for yourself how abundant it was! The fragrances were so subtle and lovely.

Desert Song runs until 22 November. I highly recommend you catch it before it closes. A beautiful collection of sculptures with natural and found bits and pieces.

Penrith Regional Gallery


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Here are a few of Tracey’s sculptures. The exhibition shows work from the past ten years of her practice. Beautiful, don’t you think?

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Artists, Exhibitions

Jane Theau: Sunbaking in Oslo

I had the pleasure of meeting the very talented Jane Theau at her exhibition at Incinerator Art Space  last week. A staggering amount of beautiful stitching (that must have taken an even more staggering amount of time to execute) as well as a decent quantity of wit thrown in. Well worth a visit if you’re in the Willoughby vicinity.

Sunbaking in Oslo – Incinerator Art Space, 2 Small St Willoughby, NSW – until November 8.

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Exhibitions, Residencies

Placemarking: the exhibition and workshops

Here are some of the photographs by Ian Hobbs of my Placemarking exhibition last month at Willoughby Museum. Special thanks to Ian and to Jacky Talbot from Willoughby City Council – a great art facilitator and colleague.

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These are photographs of one of the workshops I conducted in conjunction with the exhibition. Embroidering text onto photographs, we used a variety of threads, yarns and textiles to transfer handwriting onto photographic images from the museum’s lace collection. We had a really enthusiastic bunch who made some lovely works.
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