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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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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Artists, Exhibitions, Galleries, Inspiration, Studio practice, Textiles

Flowers on the brain

Some new work on the go in the studio. I don’t know whether it’s because it’s spring or I’ve been gripped by Modus Operandi Flora, but flowers have definitely caught my eye these past few months.

I’ve been playing with making flowers with velvet and voile which I’m in the throes of experimenting with in an en-masse kind of way.

The two images shown above are studio shots. Everything is very much in the development stage. Studio updates to follow.

Meanwhile – enjoy the view…

Below are some of the floral distractions I’ve loved of late. From the top: Hiromi Tango, AGNSW, kids art installation at Gallery Lane Cove, Sarah Contos, MAASKosuke Tsumura, H&M, and Juz Kitson.

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Hiromi Tango at the Japan Foundation’s Eco-Anxiety – Holding a Deep Breath

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Embroidery details from the Asian Gallery at the Art Gallery of New South Wales

 

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Kids art installation at Gallery Lane Cove

Detail of a Sarah Contos work at Roslyn Oxley 9 Gallery, Sydney


 

 

 

 

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Beautiful details at Love Is…Australian Wedding Fashion at Sydney’s Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences

 

H&M advertising poster

 

Juz Kitson at Sydney Contemporary

 

 

 

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Artists, Inspiration, repair, Studio practice, Textiles, Uncategorized, upcycling

The heirloom theory

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Donya Coward, Brown sitting Rabbit – photograph from her website

Do you have any artists or makers who do it for you? Are they an inspiration for your principles and practice?

I often find research addictive. One find leads to another. Before you know it you’ve got a chain of inspiration and empathic appreciation for the work of others that informs your own work and sits comfortably with your beliefs and principles.

Discarded materials, ratty old preloved garments, mending, and disparate bits & pieces often have reuse potential that goes unheeded. Memory is embedded into everything. These examples of creative work are very much aligned with my own philosophy and love of materials.

Slow work.

Hand work.

Considered.

Ethical.

I say that (ethical) because I firmly believe in the Less Is More theory.

Less consumption, more human contact, less fast-paced living. Purchase something of great quality that you love, that will last and last – and take pleasure in handing it on to others when the time comes.

Donya Coward is an artist whose work is an exquisite example of what I like to call ‘the heirloom theory’. She takes bits and pieces of very different materials and turns them into sculptures and other textile art that are brilliantly handworked treasures. You can see more of her incredibly detailed work here.

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Celia Pym, Norwegian Sweater – photograph from her website

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Celia Pym, Hope’s Sweater, 1951 – photograph from her website

Celia Pym is a UK artist whose penchant for darning and mending is a quirky and beautiful way of extending the life of garments and objects. In her hands anything textile can be preserved in a way that gives a refreshing and individual twist to its existence. You can see more of Celia’s unique projects here.

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Mayer Peace Collection – image from Instagram

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Mayer Peace Collection – image from Instagram

Berlin designer Christine Mayer’s practice is one I’ve watched for a while. She is superbly skilled at repurposing textiles in a way that’s individual and deftly structured. Her work extends to theatre costumes as well as fashion. Check out her work here. I’m happy to say I’m a proud owner of one of Christine’s pieces, bought during trip to Berlin in 2012. Timeless and beautiful.

I love finding inspiration in the efforts of like-minded creatives. There is satisfaction in finding similarities in practice, using your own resources creatively, and sharing ideas, whatever limitations might be in place.

Who are the practitioners you find inspiring? Does your list keep growing? Let’s compare notes……

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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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